Dr. Sean Carroll is Professor of Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Medical Genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Carroll's research focuses on the way that new animal forms have evolved, and his studies of a wide variety of animal species have dramatically changed the face of evolutionary biology. Major discoveries from his laboratory have been featured in Time, U.S. News & World Report, The New York Times, Discover, and Natural History. Carroll is the author of Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2005), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and The Making of the Fittest (2006), which won the Phi Beta Kappa Science Book Award. His most recent book, Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species, will be published this year.
Carroll's studies have uncovered evidence that an ancient common ancestor-a worm-like animal from which most of the world's animals evolved-had a set of "master" genes to grow appendages, such as legs, arms, claws, fins, and antennas. Moreover, Carroll noted, these genes were operational at least 600 million years ago and are similar in all animals, from humans to vertebrates, insects, and fish. What is different, however, is the way these genes are expressed, leading some animals to develop wings, and others to grow claws or feet.
"We found the same mechanism in all the divisions of the animal kingdom," Carroll noted. "The architecture varies tremendously, but the genetic instructions are the same and have been preserved for a very long period of time."
Someone in the mid 1800s made predictions about the origin of life that are being confirmed by molecular biologists today.
SEE genetic mutations occur before your eyes
Salamanders, starting in southern California, follow two geographical paths to northern california over 10 million years to become two target="_blank">differnt species.