Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Human Gland Probably Evolved From Gills

Date:
December 7, 2004
Source:
King's College London
Summary:
The human parathyroid gland, which regulates the level of calcium in the blood, probably evolved from the gills of fish, according to researchers from King's College London.

The human parathyroid gland, which regulates the level of calcium in the blood, probably evolved from the gills of fish, according to researchers from King's College London.

Writing in the latest edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor Anthony Graham and Dr Masataka Okabe suggest that the gills of ancestral marine creatures, which were used to regulate calcium levels, were internalised rather than lost when land-living, four-limbed animals – the tetrapods – evolved.

Many physiological processes such as muscle contraction, blood coagulation and signalling by nerve cells, require specific levels of calcium in the body. In humans, calcium levels are regulated by the parathyroid gland, which secretes parathyroid hormone if the calcium concentration in the blood falls too low. This hormone then causes the release of calcium from bone, and increases its reuptake in the kidney, raising the calcium levels back to normal.

Fish don't have parathyroid glands. Instead they increase their internal calcium concentration by using their gills to take up calcium from the surrounding water.

'As the tetrapod parathyroid gland and the gills of fish both contribute to the regulation of extracellular calcium levels, it is reasonable to suggest that the parathyroid gland evolved from a transformation of the gills when animals made the transition from the aquatic to the terrestrial environment,' said Professor Graham.

'This interpretation would also explain why the parathyroid gland is positioned in the neck. If the gland had emerged from scratch when tetrapods evolved it could, as an endocrine organ, have been placed anywhere in the body and still exert its effect.'

The researchers supported their theory by carrying out experiments that show that the parathyroid glands of mice and chickens and the gills of zebrafish and dogfish contain many similarities.

Both gills and parathyroid gland develop from the same type of tissue in the embryo, called the pharyngeal pouch endoderm; both structures express a gene called Gcm-2, and both need this gene to develop correctly.

Furthermore, the researchers found a gene for parathyroid hormone in fish, and they discovered that this gene is expressed in the gills.

'The parathyroid gland and the gills of fish are related structures and likely share a common evolutionary history,' said Professor Graham. 'Our work will have great resonance to all those people who have seen Haeckels' pictures, which show that we all go through a fish stage in our development. This new research suggests that in fact, our gills are still sitting in our throats – disguised as our parathyroid glands.'


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by King's College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

King's College London. "Human Gland Probably Evolved From Gills." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 December 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041206205216.htm>.
King's College London. (2004, December 7). Human Gland Probably Evolved From Gills. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041206205216.htm
King's College London. "Human Gland Probably Evolved From Gills." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041206205216.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins