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, 29 (9), 833-6

Hagfish Embryos Again: The End of a Long Drought

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Hagfish Embryos Again: The End of a Long Drought

Nicholas D Holland. Bioessays.

Abstract

Hagfishes have long held a key place in discussions of early vertebrate evolution. Frustratingly, one basis for such discussions -- namely hagfish embryology -- is very incompletely known, because the embryos of these animals are notoriously difficult to obtain. Fortunately, a recent publication on a Far Eastern hagfish describes a workable procedure for obtaining embryos and then uses this precious material to show that the hagfish neural crest arises by cell delamination as in other vertebrates -- and not by epithelial outpouchings from the wall of the neural tube as previously claimed. Importantly, because hagfish embryos should now be available on a regular basis, the way is open for additional morphological and developmental genetic investigations to help evaluate existing evolutionary scenarios and perhaps suggest new ones.

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