Wednesday’s WTF!?!: The Surprising Snaps Of A Tropical Tiny…
They might look like weird little surprised specters, but these cartoonesque caspers are most definitely of our own earthly realm…Well, our aquatic realm, at least. They are, in fact, the larvae of everyone’s favourite tropical fishtank friend - the zebrafish.
Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are tropical freshwater fish native to the streams of the southwestern Himalayan region, being found in parts of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and also Burma. These fish display remarkable regenerative properties and their embryos - which are large, robust and transparent - develop at a rapid pace; this, among other things, makes them a popular model organism for research.
These photos, depicting two-day-old (top) and four-day-old (bottom) larvae, were taken with a scanning electron microscope by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology. The mouths of these larvae are already well formed and recognisable. However, what appear to be little lashed eyes in the area above the mouths are actually the future olfactory organs. In the bottom picture, you can see that the lower jaw of the larva on the left is smaller than that of the others. This is the result of the alteration of a gene which plays an important role in oral development. By analysing the zebrafish mutants with this abnormal jaw development it is hoped that some light can be shed on the development of spinal malformations in humans.
Pretty neat, huh. But yes, I know what you’re thinking; even now that you know what they really are, you still think theyjust look like surprised little ghosts…
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