Woolly mammoths suffered genetic 'meltdown' before extinction: Study

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Wooly mammoths
Wooly mammoths

Los Angeles : A new study has revealed some really interesting facts about woolly mammoths that have been thought to have accumulated multiple harmful mutations in their genome hampering their ability to survive.

The study talks about new patterns about the giant animals that went extinct thousands of years ago.

The research shows that the dwindling populations created a "mutational meltdown" in the genomes of the last wooly mammoths. This led them to survive on an isolated island until a few thousand years ago.

It would be interesting to note that woolly mammoths were one of the most common large herbivores in North America, Siberia and Beringia.

But they lost population after a warming climate hit and and human hunters decided to make them food about 10,000 years ago.

These small islands persisted until about 3,700 years ago before the species finally disappeared.

According to researchers at University of California, Berkeley the existing genomes from a mainland mammoth that dates back to 45,000 years ago compares to one that lived about 4,300 years ago.

Scientists and their analysis show that the island mammoth had accumulated multiple harmful mutations in its genome. These harmful effects interfered with gene functions thus making the animals losing many olfactory receptors, which detect odours, as well as urinary proteins, which can impact social status and mate choice.

The genome also revealed that the island mammoth had specific mutations that likely created an unusual translucent satin coat.