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:8/15/2017)... 2017   ivWatch LLC , a medical device company focused ... announced receipt of its ISO 13485 Certification, the global standard for ... for Standardization (ISO®). ... 400 Continuous Monitoring device for the early detection of IV infiltrations. ... "This is an important milestone for ivWatch, ...
(Date:7/20/2017)... 2017 Delta (NYSE: DAL ) customers now can ... at Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). ... Delta launches biometrics to board aircraft at Reagan ... Delta,s biometric boarding pass experience that ... now integrated into the boarding process to allow eligible Delta SkyMiles Members ...
(Date:6/30/2017)... , June 30, 2017 Today, ... developer and supplier of face and eye tracking ... Featured Product provider program. "Artificial ... innovative way to monitor a driver,s attentiveness levels ... from being able to detect fatigue and prevent ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/17/2017)... ... 17, 2017 , ... CNA Finance Chief Research Analyst, Kenny ... update on Aytu Bioscience and cited promising increases in the prescription rates for ... for Natesto® have more than doubled since March of this year and on ...
(Date:8/17/2017)... , ... August 17, 2017 , ... ... research and personalized medicine, today announced the launch of a new breast cancer ... The study’s goal is to evaluate the potential for early detection of recurrent ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... ... , ... Tunnell Consulting announced today that four of the firm’s ... and Expo , to be held October 29 through November 1 in San Diego ... advance patient therapies.” , The ISPE Annual Meeting and Expo will feature several interactive ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... Arizona (PRWEB) , ... August ... ... proud to introduce the Fluidnatek® Electrospinning and Electrospraying ... electrospraying equipment scales from table-top equipment for the lab to fully automated ...
Breaking Biology Technology: