The case of the one-eyed brine shrimp : are ancient atavisms possible?

Fryer, Geoffrey (1999) The case of the one-eyed brine shrimp : are ancient atavisms possible? Journal of Natural History, 33 (6). pp. 791-798. ISSN 0022-2933

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In the cyclopean mutant of the anostracan branchiopod Artemia franciscana, paired stalked eyes are replaced by a single, median, sessile, eye resembling that found in certain monocular branchiopod orders. This eye, its nerve supply, and skeletal support, comprise a perfect unit which appears to be a spontaneous atavism. However, according to recent calculations this cannot be so. These suggest that while re-activation of long-silent genes, on which atavisms depend, can occur after a lapse of up to 6 million years (My), this is impossible after 10 My unless the gene is maintained by active selection, which cannot apply here. However, the Anostraca is an old group, and the atavism (if such it be) is clearly very ancient. Efficient DNA repair, not considered in the calculations, offers a possible explanation of how silent genes may survive for longer than the suggested period of viability. Particularly intriguing is that a binocular condition is primitive and the cyclopean derived, which has remarkable evolutionary implications. It suggests two reversals during the history of the Anostraca from paired sessile eyes to a long-extinct monocular condition such as prevails in certain other branchiopods, later to paired stalked eyes. Other ancient atavisms also challenge the claim that silent genes have short life spans. This problem, which has fundamental biological implications, is still sub-judice.

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Journal of Natural History
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28 Jul 2008 10:36
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21 Nov 2022 18:02