Living fossils among the vertebrates

Lovrić, Vanja (2009) Living fossils among the vertebrates. Bachelor's thesis, Faculty of Science > Department of Biology.

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Abstract

Living fossils are one of the rare and most valuable heirlooms of our distant past. Today there is 500 living species. Some of them are abundant and widespread, other are dying or standing on the brink of extinction, protected from ourselves with numerous international institutions and conventions. Although no one knows the exact reason why there are living fossils, there are speculations that they managed to avoid the pressure of environmental changes, hiding out in secret and protected habitats where they managed to survive almost intact by evolution until today. However, the things are not always what they look like, and the living proof of that fact is the tuatara, which although morphologically looks almost exactly like its fossil ancestors is undergoing one of the fastest molecular evolution of all vertebrates. Living fossils therefore represent a perpetual puzzle for both scientists and the entire living world, thereby ensuring an inexhaustible material for many more research. On the other hand, we must note that their existence all the more decisively destroys the dogma of evolution that Darwin unwittingly laid in the inability to fully understand the living fossils and their true nature. The existence of these ancient species almost completely disproves Darwin’s theory of gradual evolution, which would require the transitional forms between species evolving and one that its evolution occurred, but each new fossil found in comparison with its modern version again proves that living fossils are not transitional forms, but separate species worthy of admiration, that only suffered long period of stasis in process of evolution. In this work, a relatively brief review of some of the many living fossils in subclass Vertebrata, has been presented. The intention was to highlight the importance and uniqueness of these species for the world of today, natural and social, as well as the future that could bring us to fantastic discoveries about the origin of life on Earth and yet undiscovered opportunities that are likely to lie written in the genes of these ancient creatures, and every subsequent fossil DNA sequence followed with little luck will bring us a step closer.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's thesis)
Supervisor: Mrakovčić, Milorad
Date: 2009
Number of Pages: 25
Subjects: NATURAL SCIENCES > Biology
Divisions: Faculty of Science > Department of Biology
Depositing User: Silvana Šehić
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2014 11:25
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2014 11:25
URI: http://digre.pmf.unizg.hr/id/eprint/3572

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