UMMS Affiliation

Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute

Publication Date


Document Type



Animals; DNA, Mitochondrial; Elephants; *Fossils; Genome; Molecular Sequence Data; *Phylogeny; Sequence Analysis, DNA


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Phylogenetic relationships between the extinct woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius), and the Asian (Elephas maximus) and African savanna (Loxodonta africana) elephants remain unresolved. Here, we report the sequence of the complete mitochondrial genome (16,842 base pairs) of a woolly mammoth extracted from permafrost-preserved remains from the Pleistocene epoch--the oldest mitochondrial genome sequence determined to date. We demonstrate that well-preserved mitochondrial genome fragments, as long as approximately 1,600-1700 base pairs, can be retrieved from pre-Holocene remains of an extinct species. Phylogenetic reconstruction of the Elephantinae clade suggests that M. primigenius and E. maximus are sister species that diverged soon after their common ancestor split from the L. africana lineage. Low nucleotide diversity found between independently determined mitochondrial genomic sequences of woolly mammoths separated geographically and in time suggests that north-eastern Siberia was occupied by a relatively homogeneous population of M. primigenius throughout the late Pleistocene.

DOI of Published Version



PLoS Biol. 2006 Mar;4(3):e73. Epub 2006 Feb 7. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

PLoS biology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID