Sea Lamprey – Genetic Spring Cleaner

Written by: Captain Skellett // July 22nd, 2009 // Recent Research, The Realm of Bizzare

Aye, there she blows – the sea lamprey.

Sea Lamprey Smiles for the Camera

Check her out with the fangs – srsly, who needs that many teeth?! Even her tongue has teeth, talk about overkill! As adults they latch on and suck blood out of fish, but those teeth are not made of bone, but rather keratin, the same protein your hair and nails are made of.

Apparently they can reach up to 1 metre long… can you imagine meeting one of THOSE monsters in a dark, dank alley of the sea? I’m staying the hell away from puddles for the next week or so. Actually, scratch that, as a pirate I fear no sea monster! Yarr! For there is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men. (Moby Dick quote – read it)

Well, as if her chompers weren’t cool enough, the sea vampire edits her own DNA as an embryo, chucking out some 20 percent (a fifth!) of the genome. They aren’t sure why the lamprey decided this would be a good idea, but then this is the creature that developed fifty bazillion teeth so perhaps it’s not the best example of smart biology (then again, maybe it is, they have been around for almost half a billion years.)

The germline cells (which grow up to become our friends for reproduction, eggs and sperm) are probably excluded while these restructuring events are happening, which is why the next generation inherits the full version of the genetic code and not just the 80 percent edit. The article from Science Daily is here.

This isn’t entirely unknown to happen in humans, to a much lesser extent our T-cells remodel their DNA and delete sections and all that jazz. But that’s a story for another day.

Till then, my friends, keep your cutlass out, lest ye see the dreaded lamprey. A parrot is a much more becoming pet.

Captain Skellett

I be Captain Skellett. Me blog started in April 2009 when I was working full time and didn’t get a chance to talk science. Now I have changed jobs and talk science all the time, but that doesn’t stop me blogging. More About Captain Skellett   Google

   

2 Responses to “Sea Lamprey – Genetic Spring Cleaner”

  1. Zali says:

    did you hear about the giant squids attacking divers in san fansisco?
    giant tentacled beatss emerging from the depths! the apocolypse comes!!
    the end is nigh!!

    Captain Skellett Reply:

    No, I didn’t hear about that. Cool! I love giant squid!!! I wish I could find that movie – “The Beast” – that was gold






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