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gene Analysis Splits African Elephants Into Two Species
Not dinos, but it impressed upon me further how gene research reveals
relationships not necessarily illustrated by external appearances. I have
to wonder what could be seen if dino genes could be similarly examined.
Long article, a few bits summarized.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Dumbo may have a new cousin.
Researchers analyzing genes of African elephants found that the forest and
grassland groups are different enough to be considered separate species,
which means that three distinct species of elephants exist in the world.
Science has long recognized the clear differences between the African and
The genetic dissimilarity between the forest and the savanna elephants "is
like the difference between the lion and the tiger. It is that large,"
said Jill Pecon-Slattery, a genetic researcher at the National Cancer
Pecon-Slattery and her co-authors of a study appearing Friday in the
journal Science said that based on differences seen in genes collected
from 195 African elephants and from seven Asian elephants it is clear that
there "should be a species level recognition" for the two African groups.
Naturalists have long noted the difference between the rarely seen forest
elephant and the grassland, or savanna, elephant in Africa. The savanna
elephant, known to scientists as Loxodonta africana, has large ears with
ragged edges and curving tusks. ...
The African forest elephant, known as Loxodonta cyclotis, is slightly
smaller and has rounded ears.