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Oldest palaeogenome from the African continent tells of the extinction of the blue antelope

Fossiler Backenzahn Blaubock
Photo : Faith & Hempel
The specimens from which the first blue antelope nuclear genomes were extracted. A fossil premolar from Iziko Museums of South Africa (left) and a young male from the Swedish Museum of Natural History (right). The ~9,550-year-old premolar produced what is currently the oldest palaeogenome recovered from Africa.

An international team of scientists led by the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and the University of Potsdam generated the first two nuclear genomes of the extinct blue antelope. At around 9,950 years, one of the genomes is the oldest sequenced genome from the African continent to date. The genomic data provide insight into a species' extinction. The blue antelope is the only large African mammal species to have become extinct in historical times. The results of this study published in Molecular Biology and Evolution, show that, despite low population sizes, the blue antelope survived the climatic upheavals of the last 10,000 and more years, until the arrival of European settlers in the 17th Century put an end to the species by hunting.

Link to full press release of Museum für Naturkunde

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Online editorial

Stefanie Mikulla