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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

Desert elephants pass on knowledge—not mutations—to survive

Despite reported differences in appearance and behavior, DNA evidence finds that Namibian desert elephants are not a subspecies, but rather another population of African savanna elephants in Namibia. However, Namibian desert-dwelling elephants should be protected so they can continue to pass on their unique knowledge and survival skills to future generations.

Endangered venomous mammal predates dinosaurs’ extinction

The University of Illinois and University of Puerto Rico have completely sequenced the mitochondrial genome for the Hispaniolan solenodon, filling in the last major branch of placental mammals on the tree of life.

The study, published in Mitochondrial DNA, confirmed that the venomous mammal diverged from all other living mammals 78 million years ago, long before an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs.

War Elephant Myths Debunked by DNA

War Elephant Myths Debunked by DNA

Through DNA analysis, Illinois researchers have disproved years of rumors and hearsay surrounding the ancient Battle of Raphia, the only known battle between Asian and African elephants.

“What everyone thinks about war elephants is wrong,” said Alfred Roca, a Professor of Animal Sciences and member of the Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who led the research published in the Journal of Heredity.

Researchers Unmask Centuries-old Elephant Imposter

Researchers Unmask Centuries-old Elephant Imposter

Through state-of-the-art ancient DNA and protein research and an exhaustive investigation of historical literature, researchers have determined a 300-year-old type specimen for Asian elephants is actually an African elephant.

Assistant Professor of Animal Sciences Alfred Roca, left, with Research Specialist Yasuko Ishida

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