Case Studies

Animals: Woolly mammoths and their relatives

Woolly mammoths were related to modern elephants, but until very recently the relationship between these species was unclear. Comparison of the animals’ teeth, the shape of the trunk tip, hair structure and immunological reactions have all failed to show whether mammoths shared a common ancestor with all of today’s elephants or whether they were more closely related to just one of the present-day species.

In this Case Study, the evolutionary relationship of the extinct Woolly mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) to modern elephants and other species is investigated. Complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences are used for this purpose.

Case study written by: Anna Lorenc, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön.
Edited by Dean Madden, NCBE, University of Reading.