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Genetic Switch for Limbs and Digits Found in Primitive Fish: Before Animals First Walked On Land, Fish Carried Gene Program for LimbsGenetic instructions for developing limbs and digits were present in primitive fish millions of years before their descendants first crawled on to land, researchers have discovered.
Genetic switches control the timing and location of gene activity. When a particular switch taken from fish DNA is placed into mouse embryos, the segment can activate genes in the developing limb region of embryos, University of Chicago researchers report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The successful swap suggests that the recipe for limb development is conserved in species separated by 400 million years of evolution.
"The genetic switches that drive the expression of genes in the digits of mice are not only present in fish, but the fish sequence can actually activate the expression in mice," said Igor Schneider, PhD, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago and lead author on the paper. "This tells us how the antecedents of the limb go back in time at every level, from fossils to genes."
Friday, July 29, 2011
The fact that genetics time and again supports evolution at the molecular level amazes me. Not because the support is amazing, but because here is a field of science that came around more than 100 years after Darwin wrote his book, and it matches up! If evolution was somehow a fraud or in danger of being overturned, the level of fraud to have Darwin's book and ideas be supported at this level of science would be simply mind-boggling. He would have had to have had a time machine or something to pull it off. Either that, or he was simply correct, and the molecular genetics is yet one more prediction made by science that was in the end supported. Isn't it great when science actually works?