Researchers at the Max Planck Institute sequenced the complete mitochondrial genome of the extinct mastodon, an ancestor of elephants that diverged about 26 million years ago. Their data, published in PLoS Biology, allowed them to estimate the time of divergence of African elephants from Asian elephants and mammoths to be 7.6 million years ago, and the time of divergence between mammoths and Asian elephants to be 6.7 million years ago. These dates, they say, are similar to the divergence times for humans, chimps, and gorillas, which might mean that speciation for both had a common cause.
Scientists Unveil Mastodon Family Tree
Jul 27, 2007