Study reveals evolutionary changes of jawed vertebrates

Jay Kakade
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Ancient early jawed vertebrates
Illustration of Ancient jawed-vertebrates. (Image Credit: Nobu Tamura)

Almost all vertebrates are jaw vertebrates. Evolution of jaws is one of the most formative events in evolution of vertebrates.

Changes in feeding behaviors, complex linkage system and high strength for penetrating armored prey contributed to ecological succession of vertebrates.

Humans to pay credit for jaws for evolutionary changes which allowed humans to access variety of foodstuff.

It is believed that the jaws evolved from gills of fish. But how do respiratory organs evolve into breathing organ? Science Advances Today conducted a study to explain this modification.

The study included the use of fossil jaw during the period of early evolution and mathematical models to specify characteristics. The study allowed researchers to go through variety of jaws shapes.

Mathematical model enabled them to test strength and speed of jaws. Scientists found this function are in trade-off – Increasing efficiency of one feature decreases efficiency of other.


After analyzing the trends of jaw shape, strength and speed, results suggested that the evolution of jaw was quick and often.

William Deakin, Ph.D. student at the University of Bristol says, Jaw is an extremely important feature of Gnathostomes or jawed-vertebrates. Almost all use jaws for one single purpose of processing food.
This single use of jaw is exceptional quality that makes it useful for studying evolution. Studying different jaws from different animal sheds light of evolutionary changes.

It was believed that the jaws are adaptation to different functions, as the early Gnathostomes have jaws in different shapes and sizes. But this study revealed the modifications were in response to strength and speed.

Method used to Analyse Evolution

Emily Rayfield, also a Professor of Paleobiology at Bristol and co-author of the study says, new software to analyse evolution of jawed-vertebrates is unique. It allows researchers to map different anatomical changes in jaw and also to define their functional roles.


These methods surely will help to reveal hidden secrets of evolution.
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