Skip to main content

Data from: Resegmentation is an ancestral feature of the gnathostome vertebral skeleton

Cite this dataset

Criswell, Katharine E.; Gillis, J. Andrew (2020). Data from: Resegmentation is an ancestral feature of the gnathostome vertebral skeleton [Dataset]. Dryad.


The vertebral skeleton is a defining feature of vertebrate animals. However, the mode of vertebral segmentation varies considerably between major lineages. In tetrapods, adjacent somite halves recombine to form a single vertebra through the process of ‘resegmentation’. In teleost fishes, there is considerable mixing between cells of the anterior and posterior somite halves, without clear resegmentation. To determine whether resegmentation is a tetrapod novelty, or an ancestral feature of jawed vertebrates, we tested the relationship between somites and vertebrae in a cartilaginous fish, the skate (Leucoraja erinacea). Using cell lineage tracing, we show that skate trunk vertebrae arise through tetrapod-like resegmentation, with anterior and posterior halves of each vertebra deriving from adjacent somites. We further show that tail vertebrae also arise through resegmentation, though with a duplication of the number of vertebrae per body segment. These findings resolve axial resegmentation as an ancestral feature of the jawed vertebrate body plan.


Portions of the trunk and tail of a stage 34 skate embryo were stained with iodine potassium iodide (IKI) and scanned using a GE v|tome|x µCT scanner at the University of Chicago. The trunk was scanned at 80 kV and 70 uA, with an exposure time of four seconds and a voxel size of 3.763 µm. The tail was scanned at 100 kV and 100 uA with a two second exposure and a voxel size of 3.075 µm. CT slices were processed and segmented in Avizo (ThermoFisher Scientific - FEI).


Royal Society, Award: NF160762

Royal Society, Award: UF130182

University of Chicago, Award: Whitman Center Early Career Fellowship