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Earliest evidence of limb regeneration from Carboniferous/Permian of Germany (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

A new paper in open access:

Nadia B. Fröbisch, Constanze Bickelmann and Florian Witzmann (2014)
Early evolution of limb regeneration in tetrapods: evidence from a
300-million-year-old amphibian.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B 7 November 2014 vol. 281 no. 1794 20141550
doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1550

Salamanders are the only tetrapods capable of fully regenerating their
limbs throughout their entire lives. Much data on the underlying
molecular mechanisms of limb regeneration have been gathered in recent
years allowing for new comparative studies between salamanders and
other tetrapods that lack this unique regenerative potential. By
contrast, the evolution of animal regeneration just recently shifted
back into focus, despite being highly relevant for research designs
aiming to unravel the factors allowing for limb regeneration. We show
that the 300-million-year-old temnospondyl amphibian Micromelerpeton,
a distant relative of modern amphibians, was already capable of
regenerating its limbs. A number of exceptionally well-preserved
specimens from fossil deposits show a unique pattern and combination
of abnormalities in their limbs that is distinctive of irregular
regenerative activity in modern salamanders and does not occur as
variants of normal limb development. This demonstrates that the
capacity to regenerate limbs is not a derived feature of modern
salamanders, but may be an ancient feature of non-amniote tetrapods
and possibly even shared by all bony fish. The finding provides a new
framework for understanding the evolution of regenerative capacity of
paired appendages in vertebrates in the search for conserved versus
derived molecular mechanisms of limb regeneration.

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