Beastly Colors: Mammoth Blondes and Really Hairy Brunettes
By Ker Than
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 06 July 2006
Museum dioramas typically portray mammoths as having shaggy brown coats, but some of the hairy beasts might have been blonde, raven-haired or red-bodied in real life, thanks to a gene that controls hair color in humans and other mammals.
By examining DNA extracted from a mammoth bone frozen in Siberian permafrost and comparing it with sequences from other mammoth remains, researchers have concluded that the wooly creatures probably carried two versions of Mc1r, a gene whose protein product helps determine hair color in several mammals, including humans, mice, horses and dogs.
The two versions differed by three amino acids, or DNA “letters.”
One would have been partially active and the other fully active.
Why are some animals brightly coloured, others camouflaged? Here.
Why do animals, especially males, have so many different colors? Here.