What do your hair and a turtle’s shell in common? An ancestor. Nicolas Di-Poï and Michel Milinkovitch have found the common ancestor of hair and shells.
A common origin of shells and hair used to be quit a controversial idea. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, no proper ‘missing-link’ has been found. There is no trace of fossils that had a skin covered with something between shells and hair. When such a missing link is found, it’s usually a strong sign that the two traits, shells and feathers for example, have a common origin. So did the dinosaur Archaeopteryx, which is basically half dinosaur half bird, prove that birds originate from dinosaurs. Another problem for the feathers, hair and shells is the fact that these three things are very different in their chemical make-up. It’s a bit like trying to find a common origin for your cat and your bed. These two things are the reason that scientists have thought that hairs and shells evolved independently of each other for a long time. Two scientists have discovered that this assumption is wrong.
Looking at baby crocodiles
One big family
This discovery tells us more about the origin of reptiles, mammals and birds, and how they’re all related. And, while a missing link between hair and shells hasn’t been found yet, it’s pretty sure that one must exist because of this new discovery. That is, however, a thing for archaeologists to find, as fossils of it must still be buried somewhere. On top of that, you might be a bit dinosaur after all, with your hair being related to their shells.
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