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UF scientists Throw light on the origin of vertebrate skeleton

Lampreys were thought to be different than other backboned animals, but recent study has shown that things may not be all that different in the genetics of their skeletal development. These findings will be published online in the National Academy of Sciences//

UF scientists were able to find the very same protein, called collagen, involved in building cartilage in the lampreys, which is also found in all vertebrates with backbones and jaws, including humans.

"It was thought collagen was a relatively recent invention in vertebrate evolution that unites us with reptiles, amphibians, sharks and bony fishes, while the lamprey skeleton was based on quite different proteins," said Martin Cohn, Ph.D., a developmental biologist and associate professor with the UF departments of zoology and anatomy and cell biology. "Knowing that lampreys also use collagen to build their skeletons makes sense. Lampreys and jawed vertebrates inherited the same genetic program for skeletal development from our common ancestor."

Lampreys are found in the Great Lakes and other freshwater sources that finally connect to the sea.



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