London: The ability of some vertebrates to re-generate or re-grow amputated limbs first evolved at least 300 million years ago, says a study.
Salamanders have this remarkable ability to fully regenerate their limbs into adulthood. Besides, many other animals, including frogs and some fish, also have some regenerative capabilities.
For the study, researchers analysed fossils of Micromelerpeton crederni, a primitive amphibian species and a distant relative of modern amphibians that lived during the Upper Carboniferous to the Lower Permian time periods, between 310 million and 280 million years ago.
"The similarity between the variant patterns in the limbs of extant salamanders and Micromelerpeton caused by limb regeneration is striking," the authors of the study were quoted as saying.
"It is suggestive of shared molecular mechanisms that are still acting in modern salamanders as they did in their 300-million-year-old relative Micromelerpeton," the authors wrote.
The researchers from Museum fur Naturkunde, a natural history museum in Berlin, Germany found that several of the Micromelerpeton fossils had abnormal limbs.
While some of the limbs had certain bones fused together, other limbs had additional toes that were narrower than normal toes. And some limbs had toes with too many or too few bones.
The study suggests limb regeneration was an ancient ability present in the amphibian lineage that led to modern amphibians - an ability that salamanders retained, Live Science reported.
The study appeared in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.