Friday, September 28, 2007

Retrieving Mammoth DNA

Attempts to retrieve DNA from the bones and dried flesh of frozen mammoth remains have always been hampered by the post-death bacterial contamination, which meant up to 90 percent of what was recovered was not from the mammoth at all. A new study shows that retrieving DNA from an oft-overlooked source, hair shafts (previously thought to have almost no readable DNA), yields 90 percent mammoth DNA. This breakthrough will make it much easier to understand what ancient mammals - including ancient humans - were like through DNA analysis. It may also move us a step closer to the once-crazy idea of cloning mammoths or other creatures so they can walk the Earth again. One scientist on the project said of such cloning: "It's just a matter of time and money now."

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