Wooly Mammoth DNA indicates Wild Horse Surprise

by LiveScience

Artist's conception of prehistoric, indigenous, North American Wild Horses

Woolly mammoths, horses and other large beasts in North America may not have gone extinct as long ago as previously thought.

The new view — that pockets of beasts survived to as recently as 7,600 years ago, rather than the previous end times mark of 12,000 years ago — is supported by DNA evidence found in a few pinches of dirt.

After plucking ancient DNA from frozen soil in central Alaska, researchers uncovered “genetic fossils” of both mammoths and horses locked in permafrost samples dated to between 10,500 and 7,600 years ago.

“We don’t know how long it takes to pinch out a species,” said Ross MacPhee, Curator of Mammalogy at the American Museum of Natural History. “Extinctions often seem dramatic and sudden in fossil records, but our study provides an idea of what an extinction event might look like in real time, with imperiled species surviving in smaller and smaller numbers until eventually disappearing completely.”

At the end of the Pleistocene, the geological epoch roughly spanning 2.5 million years ago to 12,000 years ago, many of the world’s megafauna — giant sloths, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, stag-moose, and mammoths — vanished from the geological record. Some large species such as Equus caballus, the species from which the domestic horse derives, became extinct in North America but persisted in small populations elsewhere.

Scientists have blamed the extinctions on everything from human overhunting to a comet impact to the introduction of novel infectious diseases.

The swiftness of the extinctions, however, is not suggested directly by the fossils themselves but is inferred from radiocarbon dating of bones and teeth discovered on the surface or buried in the ground, the researchers involved in the new study point out. Current “macrofossil” evidence places the last-known mammoths and wild horses between 15,000 and 13,000 years ago.

But hard remains of animals are rarely preserved, difficult to find, and laborious to accurately date because of physical degradation, the scientists said in a statement today.

So MacPhee and colleagues decided to tackle the problem by dating the creatures through dirt. Frozen sediments from the far north of Siberia and Canada can preserve small fragments of animal and plant DNA exceptionally well, even in the complete absence of any visible organic remains, such as bone or wood.

“In principle, you can take a pinch of dirt collected under favorable circumstances and uncover an amazing amount of forensic evidence regarding what species were on the landscape at the time,” said co-researcher Eske Willerslev, director of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen.

The team collected soil cores from undisturbed Alaskan permafrost. Two independent methods (radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence) were used to date plant remains and individual mineral grains found in the same layers as the DNA.

“With these two techniques, we can be confident that the deposits from which the DNA was recovered haven’t been contaminated since these lost giants last passed this way,” said Richard Roberts of the University of Wollongong in Australia. “It’s a genetic graveyard, frozen in time.”

The core samples revealed the local Alaskan fauna at the end of the last Ice Age. The oldest sediments, dated to about 11,000 years ago, contain remnant DNA of Arctic hare, bison, and moose; all three animals were also found in higher, more recent layers, as would be expected. But one core, deposited between 10,500 and 7,600 years ago, confirmed the presence of both mammoth and horse DNA.

The team also developed a statistical model to show that mammoth and horse populations would have dwindled to a few hundred individuals by 8,000 years ago.

“At this point, mammoths and horses were barely holding on. We may actually be working with the DNA of some of the last members of these species in North America,” said team member Duane Froese of the University of Alberta in Canada.

” This is additional scientific evidence the blows the “Feral” and “Introduced” theory of anti-horse groups out of the water.  Our North American Wild Horses are indigenous to our continent and country; hence, along with other wild species,  deserve to be protected and preserved as part of our national heritage.” – R.T. Fitch, author of “Straight from the Horse’s Heart

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11 comments on “Wooly Mammoth DNA indicates Wild Horse Surprise

  1. Since the DOI/BLM along with state agencies use as little credible science as possible regarding “mis”management of the US wild mustangs and burros, I’m afraid this info will continue to be ignored right along with the will of the US people and the 1971 Act.

    It supports our contention that these animals survive and thrive (or die naturally) because they are native, unlike cattle and mining, forestry usurpers of public lands resources for human convenience and profit….not science.

    Shame on the Audubon Society and The Sierra Club, particularly the Toyibee Chapter. Sage grouse didn’t have a problem in Nevada coexisting with wild horses UNTIL those cattle, sheep, miners, loggers and government agency interests showed up saying they knew how to use the land better than Mother Nature.


  2. D. Masters, you are spot on – as usual. I know the DOI/BLM haven’t admitted that they’ve heard a word we have said, but they DO know we speak the truth. We need to keep on keeping on, spreading truth all over the place until more people know about it.

    At one time in human history, the powers-that-be insisted that the Sun revolved around the Earth. But, when enough people know the truth, at some point the truth doth prevail no matter what the govt. says.

    It IS extremely discouraging, but with every piece of REAL FACT we put another small chink in their armor.


    • …”At one time in human history, the powers-that-be insisted that the Sun revolved around the Earth. But, when enough people know the truth, at some point the truth doth prevail no matter what the govt. says.”…

      Very profound and thought provoking. Thank you. (p.s. ain’t it the truth!!!!!)


  3. Keep up the pressure on those “powers”. Madeleine Pickens has called for more e-mails. We are getting more press, and no doubt, even if it is not exactly true or what we would like to see, people who get interested will end up here and TCF and other places, they will find the truth. When I first started out I devoured the BLM website and searched the cattle sites, but the truth called me here. Remember “all news, even bad news, is better than no news” (something like that!).


    Keep up on the You Tubes – your comments needed there too. Stay to the facts, don’t get tangled in arguments, especially emotional ones. Chink that armor!



      That really brings it home, Roxy. Visions like that make my eyes leak!!


  4. Two comments from skimming above article and its comments:

    A) I have been told that verbage requested by the Sierra Club was heavily incorporated into ROAM. Have done nothing to research this since I heard it, and should do. Maybe info on this blog already exists! Hopefully it is a contribution for the better to the legislation.

    B) Was reading a book published in 1974 this a.m. on the horse which states flatly that “within the last 100 years” (!!!!!) “it has been PROVED that the development of equus caballus took place in what is now North America.” (etc.) Then, “There is still no unanimity of opinion even among experts concerning the origins of the DOMESTIC HORSE. Debate about it has so far lasted for about 150 years.” Book is, “The Complete Book of the Horse” Edited by Elwyn Hartley Edwards and Candida Geddes.

    If this info was so widely believed in 1974 and apparently within a hundred years prior to that, what IS the problem. It must be the big disinformation machine out there. Why does this concept have to be reproven every 30 years or whatever? Also found an article on web re: a judge ruled against BLM wanting to add more cattle grazing in an area: http://www.westernwatersheds.org/news-media/news-release/2009/11/23/federal-judge-orders-stay-blm-plan-increase-cattle-grazing-sage-g

    There is hope — just a lot of fires to put out!


    • Janet, I’ve known that the horse originated in North America since I was a child! I can’t remember exactly when/where I read it – I read LOTS of books about horses ;o) – but I’m sure I wasn’t over 10 or so. That would be in the mid 1950s. Also knew that horses were reintroduced by the Spaniards. Now, if I’ve known all this for SO long, how is it that so MANY people don’t know about it. I realize everyone isn’t a horse nut, but STILL!


      • I bet if we were to get our hands on the text books over the years, we would find that all these people that think this is an argument against horses did in fact have the exact same thing taught to them in school – but some people don’t learn in school, or any where else along the line for that matter, they just memorize rhetoric.


      • I have not wanted to go down the trail of religion in this discussion but it bears noting that the Church of the Later Day Saints has always believed that the horse has been on our continent since ancient times…since before Christ. I have a very good friend from the church who has shared with me passages from their holy book which directly references early horses in what is now North America.

        Likewise, there are many tribes within the Indian Nation that believe the notion of the Spaniards introducing horses to North America is a myth conceived and perpetuated by the white man.

        This is by no means qualitative or quantitative, scientific proof…but it is worth throwing out on the table for the sake of discussion.


  5. That photo up there of the artist’s conception looks like a real creature I found on internet under zebras (google search). It’s a long story, but somebody is breeding zebras to some type of horses for their wild animal farm place and the results are very much like the above. . .


  6. Something to bring a smile to your faces! If any of you are not keeping tabs on Image and Ember, you should. Check out Deb Little’s Web Journal. deblittle.wordpress.com Ember is looking a lot like her wild cousin represented above. She also looks remarkably like the Przewalski’s Horse. Also, Image is looking more and more like Cloud, he is breathtaking!


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