According to an article in Science Daily, the elephant shark, an ancient deep-sea fish, can see color in much the same way as a human being can. The discovery was published in the March 2009 issue of Genome Research and could be used to better understand the idea of color vision evolution in ancient vertebrates over the last half millennium. These “ancient vertebrates” include human beings and their early ancestors.
"It was unexpected that a 'primitive' vertebrate like the elephant shark had the potential for color vision like humans. The discovery shows that it has acquired the traits for color vision during evolution in parallel with humans," said Byrappa Venkatesh, Ph.D. who, along with David Hunt, Ph.D., headed the research team.
Researchers were able to establish that the elephant shark has, just like humans, three “cone pigments” for color vision. Genome mapping is being used to assist in the telling of the full story. The shark has changed little in almost 500 million years and has many of the same features as the earliest elephant sharks. Because of the evolutionary process, the shark's genome and the human genome are grounded in the same “ancestral genome.” It would seem the elephant shark's DNA is closer to the man's than any other fish.
Sequencing of the genome is nowhere near complete and is not expected to be so until early 2010, when the researchers anticipate it will be fully mapped. This development is obviously very exciting to the scientific community as scientists consider possibilities for genetic exploration and the integrity of a genetic map that has remained unchanged longer than almost any other living creature. Continued research is likely to yield some amazing finds when it comes to the study of the elephant shark.
This post was contributed by Courtney Phillips, who writes about the (certified nurses assistant). She welcomes your feedback at CourtneyPhillips80 at gmail.com