We Tried Getting DNA from La Brea Mammoths but Couldn’t

Asphalt is not good for Mammoth DNA.

Science Abstracts

Too many scientists are reluctant to publish negative results and there is no reason why they should feel this way. Knowing what doesn’t work is just as important as knowing what works.

MammothDNA02

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.928/abstract

Attempted DNA extraction from a Rancho La Brea Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi): prospects for ancient DNA from asphalt deposits

Fossil-bearing asphalt deposits are an understudied and potentially significant source of ancient DNA. Previous attempts to extract DNA from skeletons preserved at the Rancho La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles, California, have proven unsuccessful, but it is unclear whether this is due to a lack of endogenous DNA, or if the problem is caused by asphalt-mediated inhibition. In an attempt to test these hypotheses, a recently recovered Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi) skeleton with an unusual pattern of asphalt impregnation was studied. Ultimately, none of the bone samples tested successfully amplified M. columbi DNA. Our…

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Waco Mammoths want to be a National Monument

Researchers believe at least 19 Columbian mammoths were drowned by a flash flood about 65,000 years ago. Now, a petition has been started to have the site declared a National Monument. Here’s the text of the petition:

Add the Waco Mammoth Site to the National Park Service as a national monument by executive order.

Located in Waco, Texas, the Waco Mammoth Site provides a rare glimpse into the natural history of the southwest United States. It is one of the few sites where visitors can view the fossil remains of Ice Age animals lying where they died up to 70,000 years ago. Including the site as a national monument would further enhance the value of this experience.

The site already has a state-of-the-art shelter and welcome center furnished by the community of Waco and Baylor University. National monument status would allow it to add classrooms, labs, and exhibit spaces, as well as resume excavation.

The National Park Service supports adding the Waco Mammoth Site as a national monument, but Congress has twice failed to act on the matter. Therefore, an executive order is needed.

They’ve got a long way to go, but If you’re interested, sign the petition at the White House site. See the Waco Mammoth site here.