Jul 16, 2019 | Updated: 10:46 AM EDT

Neanderthals Shared Similar DNA with Woolly Mammoths

Apr 18, 2019 04:54 PM EDT

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Mammoth
(Photo : Unknown)
Artist Rendering of Woolly Mammoth

The glacial landscape of the European Ice Age was the hunting grounds for both Neanderthals and woolly mammoths. After decades of studying prehistoric living organisms, new research has yielded results supporting evidence that there are similarities in the DNA structure between Neanderthals and woolly mammoths.

Professor Ran Barkai and Meidad Kislev of Tel-Aviv University stated that their investigation shows a molecular resemblance between the two creatures that were believed to pursue one another during the ice age. 

The genetic link between the two primordial predators shows similar factors such as fat storage, increased hair or skin growth, and the generation is regulated by the same types of DNA.

A Neanderthal model at Zagros Paleolithic Museum, Kermanshah
(Photo : ICHTO)
A Neanderthal model at Zagros Paleolithic Museum, Kermanshah

The ice age when the two species have evolved and adapted to the European landscape has taken place 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago in the Pleistocene epoch. However, both species were actually direct descendants of African ancestors.

Scientists from the Natural History Museum stated that the short stocky physique enabled Neanderthals to cope with the cold brought about by several ice ages that had extreme plunging temperatures. 

Also, the bulky trunk and the short lower leg and lower arm bones meant that the species had a smaller surface area of skin which helped to conserve heat under the cold conditions to 200,000 years ago.

Studies on the woolly mammoth fossils found in Siberia show that although the woolly mammoths were not short and stocky, the survival of the creatures in much colder climates is due to a small genetic mutation that has changed the way oxygen was delivered all over their body through the bloodstream, effectively keeping them warmer, as explained by a team from the University of Manitoba. The specimen is said to measure a length of 13 feet (4 meters.)

Neanderthals consumed the meat of woolly mammoths which helped in the evolution of the species because of the calories extracted from the said meat that contributed to their successful adaptation. Prof. Barkai stated Neanderthals ate Wooly Mammoth meat even though the two species have similar genetic makeup.

Both the species were said to have been wiped out because of a number of reasons including the rife between the two species, or due to climate change. However, some speculate that the demise of both species was because of the new imposing species that dominated the land which is the modern human.

Discoveries such as this study could be used in future researches on evolution.

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