Dragon fish could hold key information on crucial moment in evolution

August 28, 2014 2:10 AM

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Dragon fish could hold key information on crucial moment in evolution

A species of fish native to Africa could shed light on the evolutionary process that led fish to move on to dry land. The Dragon fish, Polypterus senegalus is not a normal fish – it has two lungs, and can survive outside of water. In a new eight-month experiment researchers have shown that if a Dragon fish is raised outside of water, the fish changes notably. The fish raised out of water showed differences in their bones and muscles involved in movement not shown in those raised in water.

Fish moved on to dry land and evolved into quadruped vertebrates around 400 million years ago, and it is thought that the Dragon fish is a living demonstration of a phenomenon known as developmental plasticity. This theory states that a creature’s physiology can be changed by environmental factors, ...

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