Unsuspected homology

In 1994, Gregory Wray, from the Department of Ecology and Evolution, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY, wrote a review article entitled, ‘Developmental Evolution: New Paradigms an Paradoxes’ (Dev Gen 15:1-6).

Add Wray’s observations to the long list of observations (here, here, and here) that illustrate conventional evolutionary theory did not lead biologists to predict or anticipate the deep homology of developmental genes:

Events of the past 5 years have revolutionized the way we view evolution of developmental processes….Foremost among their recent findings is a remarkable commonality in the molecular machinery of development among distantly related species.


The most spectacular finding to emerge from developmental genetics during the past 5 years involves evolutionary comparisons. This is, of course, the discovery of striking similarities in the sequences, genomic organization, and expression patterns of the homeotic complexes (Hox/HOM) in fruit flies and mice.  The Hox/HOM genes also play a similar role in body patterning in both insects and vertebrates, specifying anteroposterior position along the body axis.  That such detailed structural and functional similarities of basic pattern formation genes exist among such different animals was unsuspected as recently as 5 years ago.


It is becoming apparent that much of the molecular machinery for development is conserved among phylogenetically distant and morphologically disparate organisms.

(emphases added above)

Y’know, it would not be unfair to collapse that center quote from 1994 into:  The most spectacular finding….was unsuspected as recently as 5 years ago.

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