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War elephant myths debunked by DNA
Date:1/9/2014

Using three different markers, we established that the Eritrean elephants are actually savanna elephants," said Adam Brandt, a doctoral candidate in Roca's laboratory and first author of the paper. "Their DNA was very similar to neighboring populations of East African savanna elephants but with very low genetic diversity, which was expected for such a small, isolated population."

The markers also revealed that these Eritrean elephants have no genetic ties to forest or Asian elephants, as other authorities have suggested. Roca and Brandt hope their findings will aid conservation efforts.

"We have confirmed that this population is isolated and may be inbred," Brandt said. "This population will require habitat restoration and preservation to minimize the possibility of human conflict. That's really the issuenot having a place to go."


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Contact: Nicholas Vasi
nvasi@illinois.edu
Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

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