Genomic inferences from Afrotheria and the evolution of elephants

Alfred L. Roca, Stephen J. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Recent genetic studies have established that African forest and savanna elephants are distinct species with dissociated cytonuclear genomic patterns, and have identified Asian elephants from Borneo and Sumatra as conservation priorities. Representative of Afrotheria, a superordinal clade encompassing six eutherian orders, the African savanna elephant was among the first mammals chosen for whole-genome sequencing to provide a comparative understanding of the human genome. Elephants have large and complex brains and display advanced levels of social structure, communication, learning and intelligence. The elephant genome sequence might prove useful for comparative genomic studies of these advanced traits, which have appeared independently in only three mammalian orders: primates, cetaceans and proboscideans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-659
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Genetics and Development
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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