DNA is the first SINE isolated from zebrafish (Danio rerio) exhibiting all the hallmarks of these tRNA-derived elements. DANA is unique in its clearly defined substructure of distinct cassettes. In contrast to generic SINE elements, DANA appears to have been assembled by insertions of short sequences into a progenitor, tRNA-derived element. Once associated with each other, these subunits were amplified as a new transposable element with such a remarkable success that DANA-related sequences comprise approximately 10% of the modern zebrafish genome. At least some of the sequences comprised by the full-length element were capable of movement, forming a new group of mobile, composite transposons, one of which caused an insertional mutation in the zebrafish no tail gene. Being present only in the genus Danio, and estimated to be as old as the genus itself, DANA may have played a role in Danio speciation by massive amplification and genome-wide dispersion. There are extensive DNA polymorphisms between zebrafish populations and strains detected by PCR amplification using primers specific to DANA, suggesting that the DANA element will be useful as a molecular tool for genetic and phylogenetic analyses.