Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Lonelier Coelacanth

The journal Nature reported on April 17, 2013, that the complete genome sequence of the African coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) indicates that terrestrial tetrapods - including Homo sapiens - share a more recent common ancestor with lungfish than either do with the coelacanth.  As poet Francine M. Storey wrote of the coelacanth, the "last inhabitant of the devonian sea":
if he approaches
unseen
unheard
ask him
how did you survive?
Perhaps this poor "living fossil" was comforted by the thought of having close relatives on land.  As of today, he may feel more phylogenetically alone.

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