Rear Fins of a Growing Paddlefish (circled) show the same pattern of gene activity (blue) as that of a growing four-limbed animal. The fin's bones [inset] also correspond to those of an animal's hind leg. Image: Marcus Davis, University of Chicago.
A Male King Pool Pupfish,
the closest relative to the Devil's Hole pupfish, protects his territory at Point of Rocks on April 14, 2007. Photo by Kat Wade, SF Chronicle.
A living fossil fish is giving researchers a peek into the genetic machinery that would
eventually lead to our hands and feet. The fins of the modern paddlefish Polyodon spathula, which evolved perhaps
200 million years ago, share a distinctive pattern of gene activity with the limbs of all four-limbed animals, according
to a new report. The finding tells researchers that limbs were a long time in the making, says evolutionary biologist
Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago and The Field Museum in Chicago. "This is showing that complex structures have
a history and they're assembled over time—they don't happen in one fell swoop," he says. Click
The last place anyone would expect to find fish is
Devil's Hole, a chasm in the middle of the Mojave Desert where a 100-degree day is mild and the only thing bigger than
the rocky expanse of desert is the sky above it. But nature is nothing if not amazing -- as good an explanation as any
of how the Devil's Hole pupfish has survived in the bottomless geothermal pool that gave the fish its name. It is tiny,
just an inch long, yet few species loom so large in the history of American environmentalism. The Devil's Hole pupfish
is one of the rarest animals in the world. The seemingly endless effort to save it laid the foundation for the
Endangered Species Act and shaped Western water policy a generation ago with a landmark Supreme Court ruling. But after
20,000 years in the desert, the fish teeters on the edge of extinction. No more than 42 remain in Devil's Hole. Click
Tucked between brown hills in central Turkey is a natural hot spring where, for a fee, you
can become fish food. Dip in a hand or foot, and within seconds small fish will swarm, bump and nibble it. Stand above
the pools, and the fish will gather below, waiting. The scaly swimmers--the "Doctor Fish of Kangal"--supposedly have
curative powers. But in this unusual case of adaptive ecology, the human visitors may be helping the fish more than
Nearly two years ago Alden Research Laboratory in Holden, Mass., hauled the scale model of a
promising hydropower turbine out of its massive test flume and set it in a dim corner of the company's hydraulics
laboratory building. As an innovation developed in the 1990s, the device proved quite promising in reducing one of
hydropower's drawbacks: the turbines kill creatures that pass through them. The novel design enabled at least 98 percent
of fish to survive. But orphaned by federal budget cuts, it has sat gathering dust. Now a new push has begun to retool
the turbine for potential commercial use. Click
Singapore's aquarium has tagged some of its fishes using microchips to help visitors
identify the different species on display. Visitors to the Underwater World aquarium can see the name, species and other
information displayed on a touch screen whenever any of the 20 tagged fishes swim past a sensor, said Peter Chew, sales
and marketing manager at Underwater World. "Gone are the days when visitors are happy looking at animals and matching
them with the information on the sign boards," Chew said. Click
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko left on Monday for a 10-day tour of five European
countries. "I hope that our visits will contribute to the promotion of mutual understanding and friendship between Japan
and the countries we visit," the Emperor said before boarding a government chartered flight. Emperor Akihito is known as
a taxonomist of fish. He has discovered seven new types of gobies and published 28 theses on the bulletins of the
Ichthyological Society of Japan. Click
Year after year, beach season brings accounts of harrowing shark attacks as people around
the world plunge into the surf to escape summer's heat. But the reality is that these fearsome predators kill an average
of four people worldwide every year, while humans kill anywhere from 26 million to 73 million sharks annually, according
to recent calculations by an international team of scientists. With the latter toll mounting, there has been a growing
realization that something must be done to prevent sharks from disappearing from the planet. Click
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