Credit: New York University
Fish isolated in dark caves in Mexican waters for nearly a million years, like the two middle fish pictured above, have lost the ability to see. They evolved into blind fish from the surface fish pictured at the top. What do they need eyes for if everything around them is pitch black 24/7? They've apparently evolved other tools for catching prey and finding mates.
Researchers at New York University began looking at four different species of blind cave fish that each used different genetic mutations to develop their characteristic blindness. What would happen, they wondered, if you cross bred them?
What they found was this: crossbreeding the different populations of Astyanax mexicanus, restored the vision in 40 percent of the offspring.
Biologist Richard Borowsky says the work, published in Current Biology this month, suggests that genetic engineering can reverse half a million years of evolutionary change in an organism -- in one generation. There's more on the work here