Emerging developmental studies contribute to our understanding of vertebrate evolution because changes in the developmental process and the genes responsible for such changes provide a unique way for evaluating the evolution of morphology. Endoskeletal limbs, the locomotor organs that are unique to vertebrates, are a popular model system in the fields of palaeontology and phylogeny because their structure is highly visible and their bony pattern is easily preserved in the fossil records. Similarly, limb development has long served as an excellent model system for studying vertebrate pattern formation. In this review, the evolution of vertebrate limb development is examined in the light of the latest knowledge, viewpoints and hypotheses.
- Limb bud