Oldest DNA Sequence Reveals New Species of Mammoth

Oldest DNA Sequence Reveals New Species of Mammoth

Evan Brown

On February 17th, a tooth from a mammoth that roamed the Siberian steppe over a million years ago was found. For the first time in history, a DNA sequence dating over a million years has been discovered. This beats the previous record by far, which was from a horse that lived 560,000 to 700,000 years ago.

With this data, scientists can study how mammoths evolved over the years, and may even be able to discover a new species of mammoth.

“This DNA is incredibly old. The samples are a thousand times older than Viking remains and even pre-date the existence of humans and Neanderthals,” said Love Dalen, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Centre for Palaeogenetics in Stockholm.

An international team of researchers gathered the teeth from the expeditions. They came to the conclusion that the teeth were from over 1.2 million years ago, with the oldest being from nearly 1.65 million years ago.

By complete surprise, researchers went on to discover the tooth they had dug up was from a species over two million years old, newly found and named the Krestovka mammoth. The research showed that this particular type of mammoth diverged from other Siberian mammoths more than two million years ago.

“This came as a complete surprise to us. All previous studies have indicated that there was only one species of mammoth in Siberia at that point in time, called the steppe mammoth,” said study co-author Tom van der Valk, a postdoctoral researcher at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

With this information, scientists can continue to discover more about the Earth from prehistoric times that date back to before the Vikings. It also goes to show how little we know about the world and its history.