Fish from an ancient line can regenerate lost limbs with newt-like flair
The discovery that a long, skinny fish can regrow its fin in a matter of weeks suggests that ancient vertebrates had considerable regenerative powers.
Two species of bichir from Africa can regrow amputated bony fins with remarkable accuracy, says developmental biologist Luis Covarrubias of the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Cuernavaca. Among the most ancient of the living lineages of ray-finned fishes, a group that includes most fresh- and saltwater species, the Polypterus bichirs share traits such as paired lungs with both modern amphibians and very early four-limbed vertebrates.
The venerable fishes’ powers suggest that early vertebrates shared substantial limb regeneration capability during the ancient evolutionary transition from fins to feet, Covarrubias and his colleagues contend in a paper published online February 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Those first steps toward life on