Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Hands and Fins Share Common Genetic Origin

by Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer | December 22, 2014 03:27pm ET

Scientists have long wanted to know whether modern hands are related to the fins of fish, and now a new study finally reveals these structures are, indeed, related.

Researchers compared the genetic sequence of an unusual freshwater fish with that of mice, and found that the genesinvolved in the development of the mice's hands and feet are also involved in fin development, which suggests the fins of the fishy ancestors evolved into the limbs of modern land animals.

"Fossils show that the wrist and digits clearly have an aquatic origin," Neil Shubin, an organismal biologist at the University of Chicago, said in a statement. "But fins and limbs have different purposes. They have evolved in different directions since they diverged."

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