Discovering Your Inner Fish --Human DNA Traced Back to Marine Origins (Today's Most Popular)
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March 17, 2012

Discovering Your Inner Fish --Human DNA Traced Back to Marine Origins (Today's Most Popular)

 

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Have you ever felt like you're really a fish?  That you love the water, you want to swim forever, that you should don an artificial tail and eat kelp for the rest of your life?  Then congratulations, you're crazy.  But by coincidence some of your psycho-cells agree with you, hiding gene expression patterns that date back to the fish and probably beyond.

DNA is the most complicated system you'll ever use.  Your genes are a huge collection of protein-encoding patterns: some build materials required for organs and tissues, but the vast majority of the genes are designed only to control other genes: it's like running a PC with Windows Vista just to open Notepad.  Even the simplest task has an enormous set of operating instructions making it possible.

In 2009, Timothy Hughes at the University of Toronto, Canada, worked with a team of researchers to investigate evolutionary alterations in gene regulation in the five different vertebrates. They found that although the specialized DNA sequences that regulate the expression of the genes seem to have changed beyond recognition over the hundreds of millions of years since the clades parted evolutionary company, the actual patterns of gene expression remain closely conserved.

"There are clearly strong evolutionary constraints on tissue-specific gene expression. Many genes show conserved human/fish expression despite having almost no nonexonic conserved primary sequence," Hughes said.

The authors studied 3074 genes that were present as a single unambiguous copy in each of the five genomes. The similar expression profiles they uncovered suggest the existence of a basic ancestral pattern of expression in each tissue, the so-called 'inner fish'.

The strongest similarities were seen in brain tissue. Hughes said, "This relatively low divergence of gene expression in brain supports the hypothesis that neurons participate in more functional interactions than cells in other tissues – imposing constraints on the degree of alteration that can be tolerated". Genes expressed in tissues subject to greater environmental influence (such as intestine, stomach and spleen) may be more likely to take on new roles and diverge in expression as a means of adaptation.

Although this study only investigated vertebrates, these expression profiles may go much further back into our past. The authors conclude, "It is likely that the conservation of gene expression extends beyond the base of vertebrates, coexpression of neuronal genes, for example, has been observed as far as nematodes."

Hughes team found that while the actual genes have evolved beyond recognition, as you may notice from your inability to expand to twice your normal size as a panic reaction, the actual profiles of gene expression in critical organs are extremely similar.  You might be building a completely different heart, according to very different instructions, but there are certain steps and stages you must follow whether you're feathered or froggy.

These similarities appear to be enforced by function, not by how much the genome actually differs from species to species.  These conserved profiles were found across very varied species no matter how much their DNA appeared otherwise similar.  There are simply only so many ways you can alter the heart-construction-procedure without fatally fouling it up.

Creepily, as revealed above, it bis one of the most conserved constructions is the brain - meaning that you might have more mind in common with carp than you expect.  Thanks a lot, nature: the one superhero we're genetically equipped to be is Aquaman.

 

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Comments

Well, there you go. Photosynthesis can occur with longer light waves, and the fundamental molecule at work is as effective, even moreso, at producing energy than short wave photosynthesis, and now we have confirmation that we have the genetic capacity to become more fishlike. David Brin must be smiling. Where can I sign up for the first experiments in human fishification?

Watch the Ted Talk from Elaine Morgan, its a must watch for anyone

This photo reminds me more of the "Angry Bird" sunspot photo making the rounds lately:
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/1203/angrysun_friedman_1080.jpg

So, people are all carp. Does that mean the author of this article is carp as well? (You see what I'm doing? Ha ha ha) I think the author is trying to make a serious point, though. But I'm having difficulty buying into his or her theory. And I will tell you why.

The link between fish and people is very weak. I mean, look at giant apes or monkeys or orangutans or other monkeys. I mean, they're not pretty and they seem to lack the intelligence of someone like you or me. In fact, I think they probably think that we are super intelligent. Maybe they don't even know what intelligence is. But, you can see the resemblance, the way they pick up rocks to open coconuts and stuff.

I tried to open a coconut once. I think it took about forty minutes. Well, I began by thinking, if I just smashed it or hammered it or something, then I would lose all the milk, and if I lost the milk, I would have to go down onto the kitchen floor and lap it up. And I hadn't paid $3.75 to go down on hands and knees on my kitchen floor and lick the kitchen floor! Even my dog uses a bowl. What was I thinking? I'll tell you what I was thinking. I was thinking, I needed a tool. So, I went out to the garage and found some petrol and lighter fluid and matches, and came back into the kitchen. Actually, my wife screamed at me at this point and told me to go out to the back garden. (Ape-wives don't scream at their husbands. That's maybe the only way they're more advanced.) So I petrolled the coconut and pulled out the lighter, but I hadn't realized that I'd also petrolled the picnic table and the veranda, which - I wasn't to know this - was connected to the neighborhood gas supply.

When I was released the following morning, I walked back down my street and in what I presumed to be my back garden, found a little star in the sliver lining of the disaster that was my late relationship, husbandhood, and fathership, for the coconut had survived and the milk had gathered in a bowl, and although it was bright yellow and had clearly been pasteurized by the fire ball that consumed my late wife, late children, and property, provided the beginning for me of the process of recovery, for I realized that science and scientific experimentizationing could provide a happiness in the despair of spouse loss and children loss, and I was determined that the result of my technological efforts to find advanced methods in coconut opening should provide some consolation to the world for the loss of my late wife and children.

Although my inlaws (late) were not immediately supportive, I dedicated all the drafts of my journal publications on the subject of coconut opening to their memory.

What has this got to with fish, I hear you ask. What has it got to do with mankind? What has it got to do with the intersection between fish and mankind? The author poses an interesting question at the beginning of this article (in the title of this article). Do we have an inner fish? And I think that depends. Statistics can help here. Statistics are the bedrock of all science. Let's be rational. How long does food take to pass through one's body? When I eat sweetcorn - you will excuse the nature of this next section - I noticed the result from the exit from my gluteous maximis in three to four days. I have asked our fishmonger, and he or she says that his or her average customer comes every ten to fourteen days and buys one to two fish on average. That means, every twelve days, an average person buys 1.5 fish.

Obviously I am a very scientific person. I was scientific before, and the tragedy of my life has made me even more scientific still. And one thing that science teaches you is not just to accept everything that the fishmonger says. So, for four days, I camped in front of the fish shop, until another unfortunate arresting incident. So I was able to tell that no one came twice to the fishmonger during that period, so I have verified the scientific data. All of this means we eat one fish every eight days, and so we have an inner fish, for 42.5% of our lives, and cod is the most common inner fish. Why was the author taking so long to not address the subject? Comments are where the truth lies. Don't believe the lies. Read the comments.

Sooniekoo You are most probibly related to a blow fish and not a COd fish?


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