Fossils, genes and the evolution of animal limbs

  title={Fossils, genes and the evolution of animal limbs},
  author={Neil H. Shubin and Clifford J. Tabin and Sean B. Carroll},
The morphological and functional evolution of appendages has played a crucial role in the adaptive radiation of tetrapods, arthropods and winged insects. The origin and diversification of fins, wings and other structures, long a focus of palaeontology, can now be approached through developmental genetics. Modifications of appendage number and architecture in each phylum are correlated with regulatory changes in specific patterning genes. Although their respective evolutionary histories are… 
Evolution of Vertebrate Limb Development
The origin and diversification of fins and limbs have long been a focus of interest to both palaeontologists and developmental biologists. Studies conducted in recent decades have resulted in
Genetic and developmental bases of serial homology in vertebrate limb evolution.
These models, which underscore the roles of gene duplication and regulatory 'tinkering', provide a conceptual framework for elucidating the evolution of serially homologous structures in general, and thus contribute to the burgeoning field seeking to uncover the genetic and developmental bases of evolution.
Deep homology and the origins of evolutionary novelty
Advances in developmental genetics, palaeontology and evolutionary developmental biology have recently shed light on the origins of some of the structures that most intrigued Charles Darwin, including animal eyes, tetrapod limbs and giant beetle horns.
Developmental Gene Regulation and the Evolution of Large Animal Body Plans
A mechanistic hypothesis is discussed that was presented earlier as an explanation of the causal events underlying the “Cambrian explosion,” and thus the divergence of large animal body plans.
Conserved Mechanisms, Novel Anatomies: The Developmental Basis of Fin Evolution and the Origin of Limbs
This review presents historical hypotheses regarding paired fin evolution and limb origins, summarizes key aspects of central appendage patterning mechanisms in model and non-model species, addresses how modern comparative developmental data interface with the authors' understanding of appendage anatomy, and highlights new approaches that promise to provide new insight into these well-traveled questions.
Evidence for evolutionary changes in ontogeny: Paleontological, comparative-morphological, and molecular aspects
It is shown that reorganizations of gene regulatory cascades play a key role in the evolution of the axial organization of animals and modifications of the limb structure of metazoans, whereas the formation of new types of structures was apparently determined by the emergence of new populations of stem cells in embryogenesis.
(Non)Parallel developmental mechanisms in vertebrate appendage reduction and loss
It was found that appendage reduction and loss was nearly always driven by modified gene expression as opposed to changes in coding sequences, and expression of the same genes was repeatedly modified across vertebrate taxa.
Evolution of vertebrate appendicular structures: Insight from genetic and palaeontological data
  • A. Abbasi
  • Biology
    Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists
  • 2011
Instead of emphasizing the subset of developmental genes, for instance Hoxd genes, the focus here is on the significance of elucidating cis‐regulatory elements for multiple other key molecular players of limb/fin development and genetic/molecular interactions among them, for a better understanding of the developmental and genetic basis of limb evolution.


The Evolution of Paired Fins and the Origin of Tetrapod Limbs
The analysis of limb origins touches on many central issues of evolutionary morphology and entails a synthesis of genetic, developmental, and functional approaches.
The Development of Crustacean Limbs and the Evolution of Arthropods
Arthropods exhibit great diversity in the position, number, morphology, and function of their limbs. The evolutionary relations among limb types and among the arthropod groups that bear them
A molecular approach to the evolution of vertebrate paired appendages.
The origin of vertebrate limbs.
  • M. Coates
  • Biology
    Development (Cambridge, England). Supplement
  • 1994
A composite framework of several phylogenetic hypotheses is presented incorporating living and fossil taxa, including the first report of an acanthodian metapterygium and a new reconstruction of the axial skeleton and caudal fin of Acanthostega gunnari, indicating further directions for comparative experimental research.
Hox gene expression in teleost fins and the origin of vertebrate digits
A scheme for the fin–limb transition in which the distal autopods (digits) are neomorphic structures produced by unequal proliferation of the posterior part of an ancestral appendix is suggested.
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  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1978
The pattern and rate of limb loss are investigated by reviewing data from paleontology and comparative morphology, and theories of the reexpression of limb structures lost in mammalian evolution are considered in the light of facts from paleozoology and genetics.
Hox genes and the diversification of insect and crustacean body plans
It is proposed that the branchiopod thorax may be homologous to the entire pregenital (thoracic and abdominal) region of the insect trunk, and a multistep process for the diversification of these Hox gene functions is suggested.
Origin and evolution of insect wings and their relation to metamorphosis, as documented by the fossil record
All primitive Paleozoic pterygote nymphs are now known to have had articulated, freely movable wings reinforced by tubular veins, which suggests that the wings of early Pterygota were engaged in flapping movements, and that the immobilized, fixed, veinless wing pads of Recentnymphs have resulted from a later adaptation affecting only juveniles.
Why we have (only) five fingers per hand: hox genes and the evolution of paired limbs.
The expression patterns of Hox genes in modern embryonic limb buds gives clues to the shape of the ancestral fin field from which the limb evolved, hence elucidating the evolution of the tetrapod limb.