Mcgill University2014-11-21 11:51 AM

Developmental plasticity and the origin of tetrapods

Abstract


The origin of tetrapods from their fish antecedents , approximately 400 million years ago , was coupled with the origin of terrestrial locomotion and the evolution of supporting limbs . 


Polypterus is a member of the basal-most group of ray-finned fish (actinopterygians) and has many plesiomorphic morphologies that are comparable to elpistostegid fishes , which are stem tetrapods . 


Polypterus therefore serves as an extant analogue of stem tetrapods , allowing us to examine how developmental plasticity affects the ‘terrestrialization’ of fish . 


We measured the developmental plasticity of anatomical and biomechanical responses in Polypterus reared on land . 


Here we show the remarkable correspondence between the environmentally induced phenotypes of terrestrialized Polypterus and the ancient anatomical changes in stem tetrapods , and we provide insight into stem tetrapod behavioural evolution .


Our results raise the possibility that environmentally induced developmental plasticity facilitated the origin of the terrestrial traits that led to tetrapods .



Full Article:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v513/n7516/full/nature13708.html#close

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