Full Mitochondrial Genomes of Central European Upper Palaeolithic Woolly Mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius)


A recently identified ‘European’ clade (clade III) of woolly mammoth has been suggested to have become extinct around 34 ky cal BP, and replaced by a migrating North American clade from the east around 32 ky cal BP. However this was based on a small number of short HVR sequences. Here we present 15 complete mitochondrial genomes (>10x coverage, and 75% of the genome covered) from central European woolly mammoth specimens, produced using an in-solution capture method without the need of in silico design of DNA probes. We have recovered complete European clade III mitochondrial genomes (n = 11) and mitochondrial genomes of clade I from central Europe (n = 4). We show members of clade III were still present in Europe after 34 ky cal BP. In addition, we identify and describe challenges in resolving the topology of a phylogenetic tree of woolly mammoth populations. We find that the supposed replacement event occurred around the time of high climatic variability and just after the modern human transition to the Gravettian culture, but the event was not as abrupt as previously proposed.

September 14, 2016
University of Oxford

I presented a poster about a part of MS.c. thesis focusing on woolly mammoth maternal clade replacement in late Pleistocene Europe, and subsequent issues found in resolving the mitochondrial phylogeney.