Mammoths were promiscuous pachyderms
New genetic study suggests different species of mammoths interbred freely
Based only on analysis of bones, paleontologists had previously divided North American mammoths into two quite distinct species. The larger Colombian mammoth was thought to have arrived more than a million years ago and spread throughout what is now the US. The smaller, hairier Woolly mammoth was thought to have been a late arrival, only 100,000 years ago, and restricted itself to Northern Areas.
But new technology has made it possible to retrieve genetic information from quite degraded bones. And using Dr. Jacob Enk working in the Ancient DNA laboratory at McMaster University in Hamilton, revealed that these two nominal species mixed and interbred throughout their ranges over long periods of time, somehow maintaining their physical differences. Mr. Enk is now lead MYbaits R&D scientist at Microarray in Ann Arbor, Michigan.