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Hard-to-find fish reveals shared developmental toolbox of evolution
Date:1/10/2011

and with that limited number, each specimen had to be a home run," Shubin said. "You had to get the techniques to work. Andrew was kind of swinging for the fences; not only was he hoping to collect rare embryos, but also to get them to work in the lab, and that was really impressive."

The data demonstrate how a small change in the timing of gene expression can produce dramatically different anatomical outcomes in closely related species. The specific dynamics in elephant fish who initially carry the potential for five sets of branchial rays, before reducing the number to one is parallel to genetic programs in other, vastly different species, such as lizards who have reduced numbers of fingers on their limbs.

"It's basically showing that the limb story is part of a much more general narrative, which is the story of outgrowths," said Shubin, who led the team that discovered the important transitional fossil Tiktaalik fossil in 2008. "There's a common development toolkit for all the outgrowths that we know in the body; they're all versions of one another in a developmental sense."


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Contact: Robert Mitchum
robert.mitchum@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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