Navigation Links
West Runton Elephant helps unlock the past
Date:3/30/2011

Researchers from the University of York and Manchester have successfully extracted protein from the bones of a 600,000 year old mammoth, paving the way for the identification of ancient fossils.

Using an ultra-high resolution mass spectrometer, bio-archaeologists were able to produce a near complete collagen sequence for the West Runton Elephant, a Steppe Mammoth skeleton which was discovered in cliffs in Norfolk in 1990. The remarkable 85 per cent complete skeleton the most complete example of its species ever found in the world - is preserved by Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service in Norwich.

Bio-archaeologist Professor Matthew Collins, from the University of York's Department of Archaeology, said: "The time depth is absolutely remarkable. Until several years ago we did not believe we would find any collagen in a skeleton of this age, even if it was as well-preserved as the West Runton Elephant.

"We believe protein lasts in a useful form ten times as long as DNA which is normally only useful in discoveries of up to 100,000 years old in Northern Europe. The implications are that we can use collagen sequencing to look at very old extinct animals. It also means we can look through old sites and identify remains from tiny fragments of bone."

Dr Mike Buckley, from the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester, said: "What is truly fascinating is that this fundamentally important protein, which is one of the most abundant proteins in most (vertebrate) animals, is an ideal target for obtaining long lost genetic information."

The collagen sequencing was carried out at the Centre for Excellence in Mass Spectrometry at the University of York and is arguably the oldest protein ever sequenced; short peptides (chains of amino acids) have controversially been reported from dinosaur fossils.

The research formed part of a study into the sequencing of mammoths and mastodons, which is published in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. The West Runton Elephant was compared with other mammoths, modern elephants and mastodons. Despite the age of the fossil, sufficient peptides were obtained to identify the West Runton skeleton as elephantid, and there was sufficient sequence variation to discriminate elephantid and mammutid collagen.

Nigel Larkin, co-author and Research Associate with Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service, said: "The West Runton Elephant is unusual in that it is a nearly complete skeleton. At the time this animal was alive, before the Ice Ages, spotted hyenas much larger than those in Africa today were scavenging most carcases and devouring the bones as well as meat. That means most fossils found from this time period are individual bones or fragments of bone, making them difficult to identify. In the future, collagen sequencing might help us to determine the species represented by even smallest scraps of bone.

"Therefore this research has important implications for bones and bone fragments in all archaeological and palaeontological collections in museums and archaeology units around the world, not just those of Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service in Norwich."


'/>"/>

Contact: Caron Lett
caron.lett@york.ac.uk
44-019-043-22029
University of York
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Missing: 2,000 elephants
2. Elephant shark genome sequence leads to discovery of color perception in deep-sea fish
3. DNA barcoding of mosquito species deployed in bid to end elephantiasis
4. Elephant-size loopholes sustain Thai ivory trade
5. Are high speed elephants running or walking?
6. Study looks at gorillas, elephants and logging in Congo
7. Lowly termite, not the lion or elephant, may be the star of Africas savanna
8. MSU scientists find new gene that helps plants beat the heat
9. Extreme nature helps scientists design nano materials
10. Diatom genome helps explain success in trapping excess carbon in oceans
11. Waste from gut bacteria helps host control weight, UT Southwestern researchers report
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/19/2017)... York , April 19, 2017 ... as its vendor landscape is marked by the presence ... market is however held by five major players - ... Together these companies accounted for nearly 61% of the ... the leading companies in the global military biometrics market ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. , April 11, ... biometric identity management and secure authentication solutions, today ... million contract by Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity ... technologies for IARPA,s Thor program. "Innovation ... the onset and IARPA,s Thor program will allow ...
(Date:4/5/2017)...  The Allen Institute for Cell Science today announces ... portal and dynamic digital window into the human cell. ... application of deep learning to create predictive models of ... a growing suite of powerful tools. The Allen Cell ... publicly available resources created and shared by the Allen ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... Dr. Bob Harman, founder and ... San Diego Rotary Club. The event entitled “Stem Cells and Their ... 300+ attendees. Dr. Harman, DVM, MPVM was joined by two human doctors: Peter ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... CRUZ, Calif. , Oct. 10, 2017 ... grant from the NIH to develop RealSeq®-SC (Single Cell), ... kit for profiling small RNAs (including microRNAs) from single ... Analysis Program highlights the need to accelerate development of ... "New techniques for measuring ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 2017 , ... The Pittcon Program Committee is pleased to ... who have made outstanding contributions to analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. Each award ... conference and exposition for laboratory science, which will be held February 26-March 1, ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... 09, 2017 , ... The award-winning American Farmer television series will feature 3 ... airs Tuesdays at 8:30aET on RFD-TV. , With global population estimates nearing ten ... to continue to feed a growing nation. At the same time, many of our ...
Breaking Biology Technology: