We are happy to announce the publication of our latest paper entitled Developmental plasticity and the origin of tetrapods in Nature online today. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13708.
This work is a part of my postdoctoral project at McGill University in collaboration with Hans Larsson and Trina Du.
We raised Polypterus senegalus, an air breathing African fish, on land for 8 months to see how a novel environment influences behaviour and anatomy. What we found was some very interesting environmentally induced plasticity. Fish raised on land walked with a more effective gait and had changes in their pectoral anatomy that resemble some key evolutionary changes in fossil stem tetrapods. This data provides evidence that environmentally induced developmental plasticity may have been present in the stem tetrapods and facilitated their successful transition onto land.
For more information, please see our research project here: http://www.standenlab.com/research/projects/polypterus/