Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mystery of disappearing bird digit solved?

Date:
September 5, 2011
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
What is the origin of digits in birds? The question has long puzzled evolutionary biologists. Using genomic analysis, researchers have now solved a key part of this mystery.

A genomic analysis shows that precursor cells pb that form index finger in five-fingered vertebrates can form the "thumb" (in orange) or first digit in three-digit bird wing
Credit: Courtesy Yale University

What is the origin of digits in birds? The question has long puzzled evolutionary biologists. Using genomic analysis, researchers have now solved a key part of this mystery.

Evolution adds and subtracts, and nowhere is this math more evident than in vertebrates, which are programmed to have five digits on each limb. But many species do not. Snakes, of course, have no digits, and birds have three.

Yale scientists now have a good handle on how these developmental changes are orchestrated in the embryo. But there is still one outstanding debate on birds: Which digits are they? A thumb with index and middle fingers, or the index, middle and ring fingers?

In five-digit vertebrates, the thumb comes from the precursor stem cells labeled pa. While birds have a digit that looks like a thumb, pa precursor cells die off during development and never produce a digit in adults. As a result, scientists have wondered whether precursor cells in pb can make a thumb.

Yale scientists have completed a genomic analysis of birds that reveals the answer. It is a hands-down "yes" -- even though the first bird digit develops where the index finger on a five-finger vertebrae should be.

The results are published online Sept. 4 in the journal Nature. Authors are Zhe Wang, Rebecca L. Young, Huiling Xue, and Gunter P. Wagner from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Zhe Wang, Rebecca L. Young, Huiling Xue, Günter P. Wagner. Transcriptomic analysis of avian digits reveals conserved and derived digit identities in birds. Nature, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nature10391

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Mystery of disappearing bird digit solved?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110904140359.htm>.
Yale University. (2011, September 5). Mystery of disappearing bird digit solved?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110904140359.htm
Yale University. "Mystery of disappearing bird digit solved?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110904140359.htm (accessed September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

Researchers Explore Shipwrecks Off Calif. Coast

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) — Federal researchers are exploring more than a dozen underwater sites where they believe ships sank in the treacherous waters west of San Francisco in the decades following the Gold Rush. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

Museum Traces Fragments of Star-Spangled Banner

AP (Sep. 12, 2014) — As the Star-Spangled Banner celebrates its bicentennial, Smithsonian curators are still uncovering fragments of the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key's poem. (Sept. 12) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Meet Spinosaurus, the First-Known Water Dinosaur

Meet Spinosaurus, the First-Known Water Dinosaur

AFP (Sep. 11, 2014) — Spinosaurus aegyptiacus was adapted for both land and water, and an exhibit featuring a life-sized model, based on new fossils unearthed in eastern Morocco, opens at the National Geographic Museum in Washington on Friday. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
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