Gill covers vs gill slits above and below the pectoral fins

Rays, sawfish and skates have gill slits on their flat undersides. 
White and mako sharks have gill slits on their lateral sides. Sturgeons, ratfish and most bony fish, have an operculum. Lampreys have a series of lateral gill holes. Ostracoderms have a series of holes on their flat ventral surface. Moray eels and their deep sea relatives have a single lateral hole without an operculum.

Those are the observations.
What do the evolutionary patterns tell us?

Put into a phylogenetic context, 
(Fig. 1) patterns emerge, but reversals are apparent.

Figure 1. Subset of the LRT showing the pattern of gill slits and opercula in basal vertebrates.

Figure 1. Subset of the LRT showing the pattern of gill slits and opercula in basal vertebrates.

What you don’t want to do
is get caught “Pulling a Larry Martin” (= defining a clade by a short list of traits, like the type of gill openings present). Some clade members don’t follow all of ‘the rules’, but all clade members follow most of ‘the rules.’ If they don’t, they go to another clade.

What you do want to do
is let all the traits and all the taxa fight it out, out of sight, deep in the 0s and 1s of your unbiased software and see what patterns emerge.

For this situation I was curious to see
what patterns emerged, given the present cladogram. Sharp-eyed readers will note this portion has been corrected since the last time it was presented, and probably not for the last time as each new taxon sheds new light on various subsets of the LRT. It’s an ongoing project in real time. It’s never finished.

PS You’ve heard that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. 
Here’s a series of paddlefish larvae at weekly intervals.

and all the taxa fight it out,

Figure 2. Paddlefish larvae change as they grow. Adults have an enormous gill cover that starts off much smaller in hatchlings. Note the shark-like stage and the earlier bowfin-like stage, not so much recapitulating phylogeny, but predicting it in descendant taxa.

Note the shark-like stage
and the earlier bowfin-like stage, not so much recapitulating phylogeny, but predicting it in descendant taxa.

Happy holidays.
Thank you for your readership. Be good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.