Estimating the dwarfing rate of an extinct Sicilian elephant

Baleka, S., Herridge, V.L., Catalano, G., Lister, A.M., Dickinson, M.R., Di Patti, C., Barlow, A. ORCID: 0000-0002-5532-9458, Penkman, K.E.H., Hofreiter, M. and Paijmans, J.L.A., 2021. Estimating the dwarfing rate of an extinct Sicilian elephant. Current Biology. ISSN 0960-9822

[img] Text
1447181_Barlow.pdf - Post-print
Full-text access embargoed until 18 June 2022.

Download (2MB)

Abstract

Evolution on islands, together with the often extreme phenotypic changes associated with it, has attracted much interest from evolutionary biologists. However, measuring the rate of change of phenotypic traits of extinct animals can be challenging, in part due to the incompleteness of the fossil record. Here, we use combined molecular and fossil evidence to define the minimum and maximum rate of dwarfing in an extinct Mediterranean dwarf elephant from Puntali Cave (Sicily).1 Despite the challenges associated with recovering ancient DNA from warm climates,2 we successfully retrieved a mitogenome from a sample with an estimated age between 175,500 and 50,000 years. Our results suggest that this specific Sicilian elephant lineage evolved from one of the largest terrestrial mammals that ever lived3 to an island species weighing less than 20% of its original mass with an estimated mass reduction between 0.74 - 200.95 kg and height reduction between 0.15 - 41.49 mm per generation, respectively. We show that combining ancient DNA with palaeontological and geochronological evidence can constrain the timing of phenotypic changes with greater accuracy than could be achieved using any source of evidence in isolation.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Current Biology
Creators: Baleka, S., Herridge, V.L., Catalano, G., Lister, A.M., Dickinson, M.R., Di Patti, C., Barlow, A., Penkman, K.E.H., Hofreiter, M. and Paijmans, J.L.A.
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Date: 18 June 2021
ISSN: 0960-9822
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1016/j.cub.2021.05.037DOI
1447181Other
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Laura Ward
Date Added: 23 Jun 2021 09:53
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2021 09:53
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/43163

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View

Views

Views per month over past year

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year