During the Pleistocene pygmy elephantids, some only a quarter of their ancestors' size, were present on Mediterranean islands until about 10,000 years ago (y.a.). Using a new methodology for ancient DNA (aDNA) studies, the whole genomic multiple displacement amplification method, we were able to retrieve cytochrome b (cytb) DNA fragments from 4200 to 800,000 y.a. specimens from island and mainland samples, including pygmy and normal-sized forms. The short DNA sequence (43 bp) retrieved from the 800,000 y.a.
Specimens of mammoth, African and Asian ivory dentine, and other mammalian species were examined using Fourier-Transform (FT), conventional dispersive (confocal) and remote-sensing portable Raman spectroscopy, all with near-infrared laser excitation (1064 and 785 nm). FT-Raman spectroscopy produced the best quality spectra for differentiation purposes and the application of a fibre probe coupled to a portable Raman spectrometer has also been demonstrated and proposed for the in situ characterization of suspected contraband ivories at airports.
1. Dental features frequently have provided data for producing and deducing mammal taxonomies and phylogeny, yet quantitative or statistical analyses for describing intricacies that characterize tooth form are wanting. 2. A method for determining fractal dimensions D that characterize enamel ridges constituting occlusal surfaces for teeth in some mammal species is presented; D quantify complexity (i.e. convolution). The method is exemplified with an analysis that was conducted on teeth from the Family Elephantidae.
BACKGROUND: Endogenous retrovirus-like elements (ERV-Ls, primed with tRNA leucine) are a diverse group of reiterated sequences related to foamy viruses and widely distributed among mammals. As shown in previous investigations, in many primates and rodents this class of elements has remained transpositionally active, as reflected by increased copy number and high sequence diversity within and among taxa.
In this article, the side preferences of feeding-related trunk movements of free-ranging Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) were investigated for the first time. It is hypothesized that a functional asymmetry of the trunk is necessary to perform skillful feeding movements more efficiently. This might be connected with a corresponding hemispheric specialization. Video recordings of 41 wild elephants provided frequencies and durations of the following trunk-movement categories: object contact, retrieval, and reaching. In each category, individual side preferences were found.