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SCIENCE
January 9, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Move over, coelacanth. No longer is this extremely rare order of ancient fish crowned the slowest evolving vertebrate animal in the world. That honor now goes to the elephant shark, whose freshly sequenced genome was described in Nature this week. Known formally as Callorhinchus milii , the elephant shark boasts an incredibly compact genome -- about a billion DNA base pairs, roughly one-third the length of the human genome. And it could provide scientists with new insight into the evolution of their now very distant cousins -- the group of bony fishes called Osteichthyes, which gave rise to all terrestrial vertebrates, including humans.
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SCIENCE
January 9, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Move over, coelacanth. No longer is this extremely rare order of ancient fish crowned the slowest evolving vertebrate animal in the world. That honor now goes to the elephant shark, whose freshly sequenced genome was described in Nature this week. Known formally as Callorhinchus milii , the elephant shark boasts an incredibly compact genome -- about a billion DNA base pairs, roughly one-third the length of the human genome. And it could provide scientists with new insight into the evolution of their now very distant cousins -- the group of bony fishes called Osteichthyes, which gave rise to all terrestrial vertebrates, including humans.
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SCIENCE
May 17, 2010 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Modern-day lizards, snakes, frogs and mammals — including us — may owe their existence to a mass extinction of ancient fish 360 million years ago that left the oceans relatively barren, providing room for marginal species that were our ancestors to thrive and diversify, paleontologists said Monday. The report, by University of Chicago researchers, focused on events at the end of what is commonly called the Age of Fishes, which lasted from 416 million years ago to 359 million years ago. That age was followed by a 15-million-year period of relative silence in the fossil record.
SCIENCE
September 25, 2013 | By Amina Khan
Scientists say they have discovered a fossil of the oldest known vertebrate animal with a jaw -- a strange chimera of a fish that could unseat the shark as a representative of extremely "primitive" jawed fishes and turn our evolutionary understanding of humans' ocean-dwelling ancestors on its head. The new fossil described in the journal Nature, called Entelognathus primordialis , is a 419-million-year-old armored fish from the end of the Silurian period, right before the start of the Devonian, known as the Age of Fishes for their remarkable diversity during that period.
NEWS
June 27, 1989
Cambridge, Mass., became the first city in the nation to approve an ordinance protecting the welfare of vertebrates used in experiments. City council members voted 8 to 0 to expand on federal and state regulations concerning humane treatment of laboratory animals by including all vertebrates--animals with backbones or spinal columns. Federal law deals with dogs, cats and monkeys to the exclusion of reptiles, amphibians, mice, rats and rabbits, said Steven Wise, an animal rights attorney.
SCIENCE
December 14, 2002 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Scientists have reported completion of a draft genome of the sea squirt, Ciona intestinalis. The squirt, noted the authors in Science, is important to understand because it is probably similar to the kind of animal that gave rise to all vertebrates, including human beings.
SCIENCE
April 17, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
They're big, they're furtive, they're weird-looking. You almost certainly wouldn't want to dine on one, since they're endangered and are said to cause digestive distress in people who eat them. But the African coelacanth is extremely useful in at least one way, said Jessica Alfoldi, a research scientist at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass.  Because it resembles ancient marine ancestors, it's a beloved subject for biologists trying to figure out how land vertebrates' fish forebears first climbed out from oceans, some 400 million years ago. On Wednesday the fish became even more valuable for researchers, as Alfoldi and an international team of collaborators published a draft of the coelocanth's genome in the journal Nature . The genome, a record of the 2.86 billion DNA letter pairs that make up the strange beast's genetic blueprint, could help scientists answer a host of questions about land creatures' evolution -- for instance, how fins became limbs, or how animals developed placentas.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 22, 1991 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
British researchers have found evidence of fish-like gills in a 360-million-year-old salamander-like creature, suggesting that the first backboned animals to walk on land lived more like fish than scientists thought. The discovery, reported last week in the British journal Nature, will force a re-examination of ideas about the evolution and ecology of the earliest four-limbed vertebrates, one expert said.
SCIENCE
September 25, 2013 | By Amina Khan
Scientists say they have discovered a fossil of the oldest known vertebrate animal with a jaw -- a strange chimera of a fish that could unseat the shark as a representative of extremely "primitive" jawed fishes and turn our evolutionary understanding of humans' ocean-dwelling ancestors on its head. The new fossil described in the journal Nature, called Entelognathus primordialis , is a 419-million-year-old armored fish from the end of the Silurian period, right before the start of the Devonian, known as the Age of Fishes for their remarkable diversity during that period.
SCIENCE
July 8, 2002 | From Times staff and wire reports
A fossil found in 1971 has been re-identified as the earliest known animal built to walk on land, a salamander-like creature that marked a previously unknown stage in the evolution of fish into the ancestor of all vertebrates today. The toothy animal, Pederpes finneyae, lived from 348 million to 344 million years ago in what is now Dumbarton, Scotland.
SCIENCE
April 17, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
They're big, they're furtive, they're weird-looking. You almost certainly wouldn't want to dine on one, since they're endangered and are said to cause digestive distress in people who eat them. But the African coelacanth is extremely useful in at least one way, said Jessica Alfoldi, a research scientist at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass.  Because it resembles ancient marine ancestors, it's a beloved subject for biologists trying to figure out how land vertebrates' fish forebears first climbed out from oceans, some 400 million years ago. On Wednesday the fish became even more valuable for researchers, as Alfoldi and an international team of collaborators published a draft of the coelocanth's genome in the journal Nature . The genome, a record of the 2.86 billion DNA letter pairs that make up the strange beast's genetic blueprint, could help scientists answer a host of questions about land creatures' evolution -- for instance, how fins became limbs, or how animals developed placentas.
SCIENCE
August 5, 2011 | By Daniela Hernandez, Los Angeles Times
Vampire bats like it warm: To home in and bite with fanged efficiency, they've developed a temperature sensor to guide them to their prey, a new study has found. All mammals need heat sensors to help them avoid potentially harmful temperatures such as those that would be encountered from a forest fire or dangerously hot water. This is achieved by a protein called TRPV1 that forms a pore — known as an ion channel — in the membranes of cells. TRPV1 detects temperatures higher than 109 degrees Fahrenheit.
SCIENCE
October 27, 2010 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
Politicians gathering in Nagoya, Japan, for the United Nations' 10th Convention on Biological Diversity ? a summit to set conservation goals for 2020 ? face grim news: Scientists have reported that one-fifth of Earth's vertebrate species are at risk of extinction. But the outlook for biodiversity would have been even bleaker without conservation efforts, according to the researchers, whose work was published online Tuesday in the journal Science. "We've had some successes," said study coauthor Neil A. Cox of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Conservation International.
SCIENCE
May 17, 2010 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Modern-day lizards, snakes, frogs and mammals — including us — may owe their existence to a mass extinction of ancient fish 360 million years ago that left the oceans relatively barren, providing room for marginal species that were our ancestors to thrive and diversify, paleontologists said Monday. The report, by University of Chicago researchers, focused on events at the end of what is commonly called the Age of Fishes, which lasted from 416 million years ago to 359 million years ago. That age was followed by a 15-million-year period of relative silence in the fossil record.
SCIENCE
May 31, 2008 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Australian scientists unveiled on Thursday the fossilized remains of the oldest vertebrate mother ever discovered, a 375-million-year-old placoderm fish with embryo and umbilical cord attached. The fossil, found in the Gogo area of northwest Australia, is proof that an ancient species had advanced reproductive biology, comparable to that of modern sharks and rays, said John Long, head of sciences at Museum Victoria in Melbourne. "It dawned on me after studying the specimen that this was the earliest evidence of vertebrates having sex by copulation," Long said.
SCIENCE
October 25, 2003 | From Associated Press
A tadpole-shaped fossil, believed to be the oldest vertebrate ever found, has been uncovered by a farmer in a rugged range of hills in southern Australia. The fossil, of a 26-inch fishlike animal, is believed to be at least 560 million years old. "The fantastic thing about this specimen is that it's at least 30 million years older than anything else that could be even vaguely related to vertebrates," South Australia Museum paleontologist Jim Gehling told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
TRAVEL
June 9, 1996
The American Museum of Natural History in New York City this weekend opens what organizers are calling the single largest and most diverse array of vertebrate fossils in the world. More than 600 specimens--including the Buettneria, one of the early four-limbed vertebrates that lived in North America (pictured left)--are on view in the six halls that make up the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center and the Hall of Vertebrate Origins.
SCIENCE
October 25, 2003 | From Associated Press
A tadpole-shaped fossil, believed to be the oldest vertebrate ever found, has been uncovered by a farmer in a rugged range of hills in southern Australia. The fossil, of a 26-inch fishlike animal, is believed to be at least 560 million years old. "The fantastic thing about this specimen is that it's at least 30 million years older than anything else that could be even vaguely related to vertebrates," South Australia Museum paleontologist Jim Gehling told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
SCIENCE
December 14, 2002 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Scientists have reported completion of a draft genome of the sea squirt, Ciona intestinalis. The squirt, noted the authors in Science, is important to understand because it is probably similar to the kind of animal that gave rise to all vertebrates, including human beings.
SCIENCE
July 8, 2002 | From Times staff and wire reports
A fossil found in 1971 has been re-identified as the earliest known animal built to walk on land, a salamander-like creature that marked a previously unknown stage in the evolution of fish into the ancestor of all vertebrates today. The toothy animal, Pederpes finneyae, lived from 348 million to 344 million years ago in what is now Dumbarton, Scotland.
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