Scientists Cull DNA From Extinct Mammoth
A rapid technique for isolating DNA in hair has yielded a mass of new information about woolly mammoths.
An international research team says the process should work on other extinct animals, allowing their genetics to be studied in detail for the first time.
The mammoth DNA was taken from the hair shaft which was long thought to be a poor source for the "life molecule".
But the group tells Science magazine that the shaft's keratin material slows degradation and limits contamination.
"The idea has been that all the DNA is in the root and that the shaft is DNA-void, or of much lower quality," explained co-worker Dr Tom Gilbert from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
"This is why when we screened a whole load of mammoths, we thought we might be lucky if we took enough hair from one of them. Basically, for every mammoth we tried, it worked. That blew us away," he told the BBC.
Tags: Mammoth | Hair | DNA