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The Lancelet

Also known as "amphioxus," this curious creature has returned to the limelight as a player in the phylogenetic history of the vertebrates

M. Dale Stokes, Nicholas Holland

Figure 2. LanceletsClick to Enlarge Image

Generations of zoology students have studied the lancelet—also known as amphioxus—because of the clues it may hold about the evolutionary history of the vertebrates. Resembling a little, colorless anchovy fillet, the lancelet is believed to bear an uncanny likeness to the invertebrate ancestor of the vertebrates. As unflattering as this may sound to a vertebrate wearing an Armani jacket, our authors provide further support for this theory on the basis of recent studies on the lancelet's molecular biology and embryonic development.


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