Fin-to-limb networks

May 21, 2019

Stephanie and collaborators published a study that used anatomical network analysis (AnNA) to investigate the evolution of bony connections from fin-to-limb. The study demonstrated that as limbs evolved the bony connections became simpler (primarily due to the proximo-distal connections of digits) and more modular. Modularization is hypothesized to have allowed limbs to evolve a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and functions.

The research was covered by the Harvard Gazette: Researcher connects the dots in fin-to-limb evolution

Esteve-Altava B, Pierce SE, Molnar JL, Johnston P, Diogo R, Hutchinson JR. Evolutionary parallelisms of pectoral and pelvic network-anatomy from fins to limbs. Science Advances. 2019 May 1;5(5):eaau7459.

Fig. 1. Network abstraction and phylogenetic context of the study. (A) Representative network models of the skeletal anatomy of a fin and a limb; network nodes represent the bones of the appendage, and the links connecting them represent their physical articulations or joints. Note that anatomical network models are purely topological; thus, information about the size, shape, and positioning of bones is not part of the model. Node size is drawn proportional to the bone’s number of articulations. (B) Time-calibrated phylogenetic tree assembled for this study; an asterisk (*) indicates which taxa have only pectoral or pelvic appendages found in articulation and are excluded in some of the analyses. Image of tetrapod outline by M. Zica (GFDL), body fossil restorations by N. Tamura (CC BY-SA 3.0), coelacanth by Zoo Firma (CC BY-SA 3.0), and tuatara by T. Vickers (CC BY-SA 3.0).