What do you know…just last week, I posted an article dismissing a creationist's misconceptions about pharyngeal organization and development, in which he asks about the evidence for similarities between agnathan and gnathostome jaws, and what comes along but a new paper on the molecular evidence for the origin of the jaw, which describes gene expression in the lamprey pharynx. How timely! And as a plus, it contains several very clear summary diagrams to show how all the bits and pieces and molecules relate to one another.
The short summary is that there is a suite of genes (the Hox and Dlx genes, which define a cartesian coordinate system for the branchial arch elements, Fgf8/Dlx1 genes that establish proximal jaw elements, and Bmp4/Msx1 genes that demarcate more distal elements) that are found in both lampreys and vertebrates in similar patterns and roles, and that vertebrate upper and lower jaws are homologous to the upper and lower "lips" of the lamprey oral supporting apparatus.
Continue reading "Evolution of the jaw" (on Pharyngula)