An important new study is unlocking the mysteries of how this giant beast survived in the cold while their cousins thrived in hot environments.
It’s been thousands of years since the legendary woolly mammoth was lost to extinction, and scientists may be close to resurrecting them — although they may choose not to.
Scientists have taken a close look at mammoth genetics as part of a new study trying to understand the differences between them and the Asian and African elephants — close cousins to the mammoth, according to a Register report.
The researchers have successfully isolated the genes that are responsible for the differences between mammoths — which lived in cold regions — and the elephants — which live in warmer environments. The gene, called TRPV3, produces a protein that causes the body to respond to heat less, and when the gene was silenced in mice, they tended to prefer colder environments, and their hair came in wavier.
This study is the most comprehensive yet on genetic changes in the woolly mammoth, and could help us understand the differences in these beasts and why they developed as they did. The only way to know for sure if this gene truly was the difference is to resurrect the mammoth, something that scientists think they could do eventually. But, they more likely will opt not to, as most scientists think that extinct animals should remain extinct, as bringing them back would plunge them into a world very different from the one they had grown accustomed to. Instead, scientists think that efforts should be focused on keeping animals on the brink of extinction alive.
Mammoths died out completely about 4,300 years ago. The animals were very large, reaching heights of 13 feet at the shoulder and weights of up to 12 tonnes, although most of them were about the size of a modern Asian elephant, a few feet shorter and topping out at 5.4 tonnes.