If the past week people were concerned with a strange fish with human-like teeth (which turned out to be a familiar species), scientists have now another news from the aquatic world. They have discovered a new link between humans and fish: a mutant fish might be the proof that human fingers evolved from fins.
It is no mystery to anyone that the evolution of creatures started from aquatic organisms. The thing that is left to discover is how the translation from water to land took place. Researchers think they are close to the answer, as a so-called mutant fish can be the key.
Researchers spent years trying to figure out the process behind the transformation. Recent studies, carried out with the help of modern technology, show that bone fragments in fish’s fins are similar to those of mammals’ fingers on land. The subject they used for the experiments was the striped zebrafish.
The experiments consisted in the process of editing genes and of crossbreeding the subjects. The experiments resulted in the mutant fish which shows the similarities between mammal limbs and fish fins.
The bones in a fish fin are actually entirely different to what we have in our fingers and toes. They are much thinner and apply much closely to the skin (they are dermal bones). Wrist and ankles are also important when it comes to evolution stages because the new experiments showed that the mutant fish could grow similar structures, which could eventually develop into digits.
Professor Neil Shubin was the leader of the research team and the main author of the study. He is aware that this recent discovery is just a small step ahead; it is significant, but the problem must still be looked into, as he declares for The Christian Science Monitor:
“It’s supported by a lot of data, but to really nail it, I think we need to watch those cells in the mutants a little bit better.” (Neil Shubin, University of Chicago)
Andrew Gehrke is one of the important members of the team, as he is the one who showed the results to Professor Shubin, and even he found it hard to believe.
One of the most likely things to happen next is that the scientific community would make more investigation in the field and would soon come up with concrete results.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia