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Type: Journal article
Title: A comprehensive genomic history of extinct and living elephants
Author: Palkopoulou, E.
Lipson, M.
Mallick, S.
Nielsen, S.
Rohland, N.
Baleka, S.
Karpinski, E.
Ivancevic, A.
To, T.-H.
Kortschak, R.
Raison, J.
Qu, Z.
Chin, T.-J.
Alt, K.
Claesson, S.
Dalén, L.
MacPhee, R.
Meller, H.
Roca, A.
Ryder, O.
et al.
Citation: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, 2018; 115(11):2566-2574
Publisher: PNAS
Issue Date: 2018
ISSN: 0027-8424
Statement of
Eleftheria Palkopoulou, Mark Lipson, Swapan Mallick, Svend Nielsen, Nadin Rohland, Sina Baleka, Emil Karpinski, Atma M. Ivancevic, Thu-Hien To, R. Daniel Kortschak, Joy M. Raison, Zhipeng Qu, Tat-Jun Chin, Kurt W. Alt, Stefan Claesson, Love Dalén, Ross D. E. MacPhee, Harald Meller, Alfred L. Roca, Oliver A. Ryder, David Heiman, Sarah Young, Matthew Breen, Christina Williams, Bronwen L. Aken, Magali Ruffier, Elinor Karlsson, Jeremy Johnson, Federica Di Palma, Jessica Alfoldi, David L. Adelson, Thomas Mailund, Kasper Munch, Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Michael Hofreiter, Hendrik Poinar, and David Reich
Abstract: Elephantids are the world's most iconic megafaunal family, yet there is no comprehensive genomic assessment of their relationships. We report a total of 14 genomes, including 2 from the American mastodon, which is an extinct elephantid relative, and 12 spanning all three extant and three extinct elephantid species including an ∼120,000-y-old straight-tusked elephant, a Columbian mammoth, and woolly mammoths. Earlier genetic studies modeled elephantid evolution via simple bifurcating trees, but here we show that interspecies hybridization has been a recurrent feature of elephantid evolution. We found that the genetic makeup of the straight-tusked elephant, previously placed as a sister group to African forest elephants based on lower coverage data, in fact comprises three major components. Most of the straight-tusked elephant's ancestry derives from a lineage related to the ancestor of African elephants while its remaining ancestry consists of a large contribution from a lineage related to forest elephants and another related to mammoths. Columbian and woolly mammoths also showed evidence of interbreeding, likely following a latitudinal cline across North America. While hybridization events have shaped elephantid history in profound ways, isolation also appears to have played an important role. Our data reveal nearly complete isolation between the ancestors of the African forest and savanna elephants for ∼500,000 y, providing compelling justification for the conservation of forest and savanna elephants as separate species.
Keywords: admixture
elephantid evolution
species divergence
Rights: The author(s) retains copyright to individual PNAS articles, and the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (NAS) holds copyright to the collective work and retains an exclusive License to Publish these articles, except for open access articles submitted beginning September 2017. For such open access articles, NAS retains a nonexclusive License to Publish, and these articles are distributed under a CC BY-NC-ND license.
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1720554115
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Zoology publications

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