† Sebas pickled elephant is a dead Male ♂ African savanna elephant, (Loxodonta africana), who died at Africa unspecified location, in Africa unspecified country, of Fetal death in utero in <1753. Official death reason described as removed from dead mothers uterus?.
The remains of this elephant is within the Taxidermy collection at Swedish Museum of Natural History, in Stockholm, Sweden.
Sebas pickled elephant was born wild <1753 at Africa unspecified location.
Carl Linnaeus could hardly contain his excitement over his latest acquisition. “I am pleased that the little elephant has arrived. If he costs a lot, he was worth it. Certainly, he is as rare as a diamond,” the founding father of modern taxonomy wrote in a letter to a friend on 18 May 1753. Linnaeus dubbed the species Elephas maximus, which is now commonly known as the Asian elephant, and listed the elephant’s origin, or locality, as Zeylonae paludosis, or Ceylon, the island now called Sri Lanka. Whether or not Linnaeus knew its origin, his pickled pachyderm was cemented as the archetype for the Asian elephant.
Beginning in the 1800s, after the fetus was moved from the royal palace outside Stockholm to the building that became the Swedish Natural History Museum, curators there began to wonder whether their prized holding was mislabelled.
Later researchers enlisted Tom Gilbert to identify the species, an ancient-DNA expert at the University of Copenhagen, but he failed, even using what was then the world’s most advanced DNA sequencing technology.
Enrico Cappellini, a protein chemist, From a bit of oesophagus, Cappellini and Gilbert detected one protein that differed, by a single amino acid, between the two species. The protein was a portion of the haemoglobin complex that carries oxygen in red blood cells. In Asian elephants, the amino acid is aspartate, whereas in African elephants it is glutamate. Cappellini’s tests confirmed that Linnaeus’s elephant encoded glutamate. Mystery solved: the fetus that Linnaeus had taken as the archetype of the Asian elephant was, in fact, an African elephant.
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