Science » Technologies and discoveries
Author`s name Alex Naumov

Unique mammoth gene made prehistoric hairy creatures blonde

Museum dioramas typically portray mammoths as having shaggy brown coats, but some of the hairy beasts might have been blonde, raven-haired or red-bodied in real life, thanks to a gene that controls hair color in humans and other mammals.

By examining DNA extracted from a mammoth bone frozen in Siberian permafrost and comparing it with sequences from other mammoth remains, researchers have concluded that the wooly creatures probably carried two versions of Mc1r, a gene whose protein product helps determine hair color in several mammals, including humans, mice, horses and dogs.

The two versions differed by three amino acids, or DNA "letters." One would have been partially active and the other fully active.

Mammoths with the partially active version of Mc1r would likely have had light-colored coats, the researchers say, while those with the active version would have had dark hair.

If the mammoth gene works the same way that it does for humans and other mammals, the lighter animals might have had yellow or reddish hair, while the dark ones might have been black or brown.

The finding, led by Holger Rompler of the University of Leipzig in Germany, is detailed in the July 7 issue of the journal Science.

Unlike humans, the hair of mammoths probably would not have grayed with age, Rompler told LiveScience.

"Most mammals don't gray with age," Rompler said. "We don't really know why humans do."

Mammoths died out about 10,000 years ago. Scientists are not yet sure whether nature alone was behind their demise or if humans hunted them to extinction. Some scientists have proposed using mammoth DNA to revive the beasts, livescience.com reports.

Other research published in the same journal found that beach mice, whose coat colour is also controlled by the Mc1r gene, have varying colours for survival reasons.

The researchers said Florida beach mice were lighter than their mainland cousins because their pale fur helped them to hide from predators in their sand-dune habitat, BBC says.

Source: agencies

Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
Pravda.ru

Discuss this article on Pravda.ru English Forum

Comments
USA plays to pretend a mighty dragon that can no longer breathe fire
USA plays to pretend a mighty dragon that can no longer breathe fire
Putin sees no drama if Russia misses Davos forum
Macron challenges Trump. French independence and croissants at stake
Putin's three days in Singapore mark Russia's major geopolitical changes since 2000
Putin's three days in Singapore mark Russia's major geopolitical changes since 2000
Moving inexorably towards war
Putin dislikes the idea of US army bases coming to Kuril Islands
Putin dislikes the idea of US army bases coming to Kuril Islands
Putin sees no drama if Russia misses Davos forum
How can Americans and Russians understand each other?
How can Americans and Russians understand each other?
How can Americans and Russians understand each other?
Brexit: The UK's misunderstanding of Democracy
Russian FM Lavrov warns of possible war between Russia and USA
Norwegians complain of demoralised NATO soldiers
The West still does not know what the Russian way of warfare is like
The West still does not know what the Russian way of warfare is like
Putin's three days in Singapore mark Russia's major geopolitical changes since 2000
Brexit: The UK's misunderstanding of Democracy
Putin dislikes the idea of US army bases coming to Kuril Islands