Discover's Newsletter Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox! Their development has provided new insights into the evolution of neural crest cellssolidifying the consensus that these cells are a shared trait by all vertebrates and that these cells are regulated by a common subset of genes. Hagfish have a mesonephric kidney and are often neotenic of their pronephric kidney. It is assumed this is an adaptation to survive predator attacks. Hagfish diverged from early vertebrates prior to the evolution of dentine, which enables vertebrate animals to have teeth.
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It has been proven to impair the function of a predator fish's gills. Baldwin went to sea with fishermen aboard a commercial fishing vessel in the fall ofand both scientists have handled the animals and led college biology class labs and dissections. The students got to get their hands on them and dissect them, look at the heart and organs. Baldwin and Olson wanted a portion of those hagfish caught last fall to wind up in classrooms in Juneau and Petersburg, and they hand-delivered a batch to the University of Alaska. Although I was among the early supporters of vertebrate paraphyly, I am impressed by the evidence provided by Heimberg et al. Their classification as agnathans places hagfish as elementary vertebrates in between invertebrates and gnathostomes.