Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sharks with Fingers?

It’s possible. The genetic blueprint is there for sharks to grow fingers and toes, according to a LiveScience report. The reason sharks aren’t swimming around with digits is because the genetic process that controls this development is limited.

This finding, by a team at the University of Florida, suggests the genetic recipe for fingers goes back more than 500 million years ago, when cartilaginous fish (which have skeletal systems made of cartilage) split off from bony fish. Mammals evolved from the bony variety, of course.

Fingers and toes wouldn’t show up in the fossil record until 135 million years after bony and cartilaginous fish split off from one another. So it seems that these handy (ha ha) genes remained dormant for ages.

I wonder what else lies quiet, waiting to surprise us, in our genes.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.