Researchers Reveal Genetic Secrets of “Living Fossil” Coelacanth

Researchers Reveal Genetic Secrets of “Living Fossil” Coelacanth

Scientists have revealed the genetic secrets of a "living fossil" Coelacanth by sequencing its genome. Coelacanth is a deep-sea fish that closely resemble its ancestors lived at least 300 million years ago.

The findings revealed that evolution of some of the animal's genes happened very slowly. The study also analyzed the association of the fish with the first land-bases animals. Scientists believe that four large fleshy fins of coelacanth could have been the predecessors of limbs.

Also, the study suggested that the fish had a close relation with early tetrapods. Tetrapods were the first creatures to drag themselves out of the ocean and develop the ability to live on land.

The study was published in the journal Nature. Lungfish was suggested by the study to have more genes related to land-based animals. Lungfish also has four limbs.

The coelacanth is known to grow 2m-long and is found in caves deep beneath the waves. It was previously thought that they have been extinct for millions of years, until 1938 when it was stuck in a trawlerman's net off the coast of Africa.

An international team of researchers sequenced the coelacanth's genome that contained nearly three billion DNA bases.

Professor Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, from the University of Uppsala in Sweden and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in the US, said, "It lives several hundred meters down in the ocean, and it may also be in an environment where it doesn't have a lot of competitors".

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