Christopher Nedza

A Slice of Fish

The pigment melanin has a variety of vital roles within the body of animals as well as giving colour to hair and skin. Amazingly, this pigment often fossilises! Knowing where melanin is located within living animals is crucial to understanding key evolutionary innovations such as the eye. These colour negative slices through the anatomy of an extant lamprey help palaeontologists understand the distribution of melanin in ‘living fossils’, allowing more accurate interpretations of some of the most ambiguous and bizarre earliest animals. Melanin, stained white, can clearly be seen in the lamprey eyes (middle), the gills (left) and gonads (right).

Christopher Nedza - Department of Geology

Nedza 1065

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Issue 5 Cover