A prehistoric fish that until 1938 was thought to be extinct has caught the eye of geneticists at the Stanford University School of Medicine who hope to sequence the ancient genome to learn how animals evolved to live on land.
The 5-foot, 130-pound fish in question, called the coelacanth, ekes out an existence in cool, deep-water caves off the Comoro Islands in the Indian Ocean and northern Indonesia. Its lobed fins, skeleton structure and large, round scales are practically unchanged from its fossilized ancestors. This resemblance is what makes it an attractive target for sequencing, according to work published in this weeks online issue of Genome Research.
Genetics professor Richard Myers, PhD, co-authored the paper, which makes the case for sequencing the coelacanth genome. "Its just making an argument that if we want to understand this level of evolution, this is what we need to do," he said. The next step is convincing a funding agency, such as the National Institutes of Health or the Department of Energy, to add the coelacanth to a list of high priority organisms to sequence.
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