PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PHILIPPE PLAILLY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
DNA study of fossil mastodon. Erika Hagelberg uses forceps to extract pulp from a fossil tooth of the extinct North American mastodon Mastodon ameri- canus. The pulp cavity of this tooth is scraped for tissue that may still contain fragments of DNA genetic material. Mastodons and mammoths, prehistoric elephant-like animals which became extinct at the end of the Ice Age, are sometimes found frozen in permafrost. They may be preserved well enough for DNA sampling. DNA of mastodons and mammoths is then compared with living elephants, to establish their evolutionary links. Photo- graphed at the University of Cambridge, England.
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