An international research team has assembled the genome and 3D chromosomal structures of a 52,000-year-old woolly mammoth — the first time such a feat has been achieved for any ancient DNA sample. The fossilized chromosomes, which are around a million times longer than most ancient DNA fragments, provide insight into how the mammoth’s genome was organized within its living cells and which genes were active within the skin tissue from which the DNA was extracted. This unprecedented level of structural detail was retained because the mammoth underwent freeze-drying shortly after it died, which meant that its DNA was preserved in a glass-like state. 

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