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Environmental oxygen triggers loss of webbed digits


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Free fingers have many obvious advantages on land, such as in locomotion and grasping, while webbed fingers are typical of aquatic or gliding animals. But both amphibians and amniotes—which include mammals, reptiles, and birds—can have webbed digits. In new research from Japan, scientists show for the first time that during embryo development, some animal species detect the presence of atmospheric oxygen, which triggers removal of interdigital webbing. Their research appears June 13 in the journal Developmental Cell.

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