African elephants stop growing tusks because of poachers

Scientists from Princeton University investigated why African elephants lost their tusks from

genetic point of view.

Active evolutionary changes began in 1977until 1992. During this period, there was an active killing of elephants, for the sake of their tusks, and there was a civil war in Mozambique. In the course of the military conflict, both sides depended on the sale of the extracted bones, since money was needed for the fighting.

The authors examined how military action and activitypoachers affected the elephant population in Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique. During this time, the number of African elephants has decreased by 90%. At the same time, scientists have found a threefold increase in the number of female elephants without tusks - from 18.5% to 50.9%.

It was the intense extermination of elephants with tusks that caused genetic changes, scientists emphasize. Only females are born without tusks, which proves the connection of this change with sex.

The authors conducted genetic tests to understandwhat genes are responsible for the development or absence of tusks. They found that the changes are associated with genes AMELX and MEP1a, both of which play a role in the development of teeth in mammals.

Interestingly, the AMELX gene is also associated with suppression of lateral incisor growth in humans.

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African elephants stop growing tusks because of poachers

Scientists from Princeton University investigated why African elephants lost their tusks from (more ...)