Scientists claim that parasitic fish offer evolutionary insights. Lamprey are parasitic eel-like Fish and the only existing species of vertebrates without jaws. Caltech researchers discovered unexpected mechanisms for the evolution of neurons of the peripheral nervous system. Stephen Green at Caltech says that lamprey is a famous parasitic fish, and it offers evolutionary insights. Lamprey are exciting to biologists because of their primitive natures. They retain various characteristics similar to their ancestors and provide answers to several evolutionary questions.

Embryonic nerve cells

Green says that the fish have various types of Neural Crest Cells, but scientists do not know anything about which cells are behind the production of gut neurons. Embryonic nerve cells move from one part of the spinal cord to another and tend to reach the gut. These gradually develop into neurons and reach the gut. Little is known about the history of embryonic nerve cells, but Green believes that these differentiate into specialized cells. They make facial skeleton cells or turn into pigment cells. Biologists will find out how lamprey develop gut neurons and how these look like ancient vertebrates.

Lamprey with evolutionary insights

Stephen Green carries out her experiments in the laboratory of Marianne Bronner, and says that lamprey is a good example of how vertebrates evolved with time.

Though the fish have no jaw but they maintain structures like jaws, offering better evolutionary insights. For years, Stephen was studying lamprey because of their unique characteristics. She maintains some populations of lamprey at her lab and is interested to know about the resemblance of lamprey to ancient vertebrates. She says that lamprey has gut neurons that were present in ancient vertebrates too.

These neurons are responsible for controlling muscle movements during digestion. Biologists will soon find out how lampreys manage all aspects of gut physiology, including secretion and water balance. She will also discover the origin of the fish because its gut neurons are similar to that of ancient vertebrates. She believes that the fish originated from specific embryonic cells, called neural crest cells, but she requires more time to prove her point.