Vertebrate biologist John Finarelli, of University College, Dublin and University of Chicago biologist, Michael Coates, recently issued some rather startling statements. According to the two researchers, humans have an evolutionary ancestor that one might describe as all wet. Their studies suggest a fish that lived about 290 million years ago called Acanthode bronni or A. bronni is related to man. In fact they say that A. bronni is the ancestor of all jawed vertebrates. Most surprisingly perhaps is A. bronni's resemblance to sharks. "The common ancestors of all jawed vertebrates today organized their heads in a way that resembled sharks," said Finarelli, according to an article from LiveScience.
These findings appear to shed more light on the scientific quest to discover the origins and the lineage of mankind. Interestingly, these new discoveries seem to point at an even more complex lineage than previously assumed. If A. bronni proves to be what researchers think it is, it only adds to the diversity seemingly apparent in man's genetic make up. Now we can add fish to our genetic portfolio of ancient ancestors along with chimps, fruit flies, mice, chickens, dogs and others.
On the surface it would appear that man is more like the mythological chimera than a unique creation. Humans share 61 percent of their DNA with fruit flies, about 98 percent with chimpanzees, and varying percentages of other animals; including a staggering 99 percent with mice. So what does this all mean for humanity? Does it mean that we are just a random combination of chemicals that somehow ended up at the top of the food chain?
Exactly what is it that makes us who we are? Maybe it's the 39 percent difference between us and the fruit flies or the 1 percent between us and mice. Could it be if mice possessed our 1 percent difference they would have emerged as the dominant species on earth? It is very difficult to imagine a mouse slowly making rounds about the lab, observing its test humans, but is it possible that we are only removed from that scenario by a 1 percent difference in our DNA?
As science continues to advance and make even more new discoveries, we just might be in for a few more unexpected surprises as well.