Human teeth evolved from the same genes that make the bizarre beaked teeth of the pufferfish, according to new research by an international team of scientists.
The study, led by Dr Gareth Fraser from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, has revealed that the pufferfish has a remarkably similar tooth-making programme to other vertebrates, including humans.
Published in the journal PNAS, the research has found that all vertebrates have some form of dental regeneration potential. However the pufferfish use the same stem cells for tooth regeneration as humans do but only replace some teeth with elongated bands that form their characteristic beak.
“Our study suggests the same genes are instrumental in the early development of all skin appendages from feathers and hair to shark skin teeth. Even though the final structures are very different this paper reveals that the developmental origins of all these structures are similar. Evolution has therefore used these common underpinnings as a foundation that can be modified over time to produce the vast diversity of skin structures seen in vertebrates,” Dr Fraser added. Paper. (public access) – Alexandre P. Thiery, Takanori Shono, Daisuke Kurokawa, Ralf Britz, Zerina Johanson, Gareth J. Fraser. Spatially restricted dental regeneration drives pufferfish beak development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017; 201702909 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1702909114/Rory L. Cooper, Kyle J. Martin, Liam J. Rasch, Gareth J. Fraser. Developing an ancient epithelial appendage: FGF signalling regulates early tail denticle formation in sharks. EvoDevo, 2017; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s13227-017-0071-0 More.
But the fact that “the same genes are instrumental in the early development of all skin appendages from feathers and hair to shark skin teeth” does not suggest a tree of life at all. It suggests persistent reuse of the same solutions toward a goal. More like design.
See also: When genome mapper Craig Venter made clear he doubted universal common descent…
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