Whoa! Sticklebacks Are Amazing

Science Daily has an interesting article about sticklebacks:

The research team, based at the universities of Leicester, UK, and Stony Brook, USA, captured living stickleback (of the common or garden pond variety), fed them different kinds of food in different conditions and then examined their teeth using a powerful electron microscope. The team also looked at the teeth of wild stickleback, which had been feeding naturally, from Alaskan lakes.

What they discovered was that as sticklebacks shifted away from feeding on lake bottoms, sticklebacks lost some of their spines. From Science Daily:

Scientifically, this is highly significant. That feeding and diet is an important control on evolution is exactly what would be expected from evolution by natural selection, but this is the first time that this aspect of Darwin’s theory has been directly testable using fossils that record real evolutionary change over many thousands of years. “We now know that by looking at microscopic chips and scratches on fish teeth we can investigate important evolutionary questions that were previously in the realm of the unknowable” concludes Purnell.

Very cool stuff!

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2 Responses

  1. Very, very cool.

  2. Very, very cool.

  3. I am amazed at this old news. It has been know for many years that form and shape of fish teeth is affected by diet. I vaguely recall an article, maybe by Jim Atz, in the 60’s about an African snail-eating cichlid which, in nature, has molar-like crushing pharyngeal teeth. They raised some in the lab and did not feed them snails. The lab fish did not develop molar-like teeth.

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