What's the difference between a marine worm's gills and a human pharynx?

MCB Professor of Genetics, Genomics and Development Daniel Rokhsar and collaborators shed light on how humans evolved the ability to bite, chew, swallow and speak through this fascinating marine worm genome sequencing effort.


Photo: An adult female acorn worm, Saccoglossus kowalevskii, with eggs, collected near Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The series of parallel lines on the body below the orange collar are the pharyngeal slits used for filtering food from seawater. The gill slits were the origin of fish gills and the human pharynx. Chris Lowe photo, Stanford University.