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“My baby needs to live”… Elephant’s sad motherhood, chose ‘ivory mutant’ for human greed

picture explanationelephant without shark [사진 출처 = 연합뉴스]

When elephant poaching became popular because of tusks sold as expensive crafts, a study found that ‘sad mutant evolution’ occurred in 15 years. Elephants born without ivory are on the rise.

Professor Robert Pringle of Princeton University in the United States published a study in the international academic journal Science on the 21st (local time) that ivory poaching during the 1977-1992 civil war in Mozambique had an impact on the evolution of female African savannah elephants.

During the civil war, about 90% of the African elephant population was slaughtered by armed forces to raise money for arms.

The researchers noted that among African savannah elephants living in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, females are often born without tusks.

Blood was collected from seven female elephants with tusks and 11 without tusks and DNA was analyzed.

As a result of the analysis, it was estimated that the ivory was lost due to a mutation on one side of the X sex chromosome, including a gene that contributes to the development of teeth in mammals.

Females have XX sex chromosomes and males have XY sex chromosomes. When the X chromosome is mutated, the female loses ivory. Males are more likely to miscarry in the mother’s womb, the researchers analyzed.

The researchers pointed out that these changes affect not only elephants but the entire ecosystem. Elephants use ivory to dig up food underground and to debark. An increase in ivory-free elephants could affect ecosystem properties, such as plant species composition.

[최기성 매경닷컴 기자]
[ⓒ 매일경제 & mk.co.kr, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]

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