Mylodon darwinii DNA sequences from ancient fecal hair shafts
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Preserved hair has been increasingly used as an ancient DNA source in high throughput sequencing endeavors, and it may actually offer several advantages compared to more traditional ancient DNA substrates like bone. However, cold environments have yielded the most informative ancient hair specimens, while its preservation, and thus utility, in temperate regions is not well documented. Coprolites could represent a previously underutilized preservation substrate for hairs, which, if present therein, represent macroscopic packages of specific cells that are relatively simple to separate, clean and process. In this pilot study, we report amplicons 147-152 base pairs in length (w/primers) from hair shafts preserved in a south Chilean coprolite attributed to Darwin's extinct ground sloth, Mylodon darwinii. Our results suggest that hairs preserved in coprolites from temperate cave environments can serve as an effective source of ancient DNA. This bodes well for potential molecular-based population and phylogeographic studies on sloths, several species of which have been understudied despite leaving numerous coprolites in caves across of the Americas.
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