VCU Rice Center

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News and events
July 22, 2014

VCU Rice Rivers Center’s latest publication

As we approach the fifty-publication mark at the VCU Rice Rivers Center, we congratulate Dr. Michael Fine on his latest article, “Reduction of the pectoral spine and girdle in domesticated channel catfish is likely caused by changes in selection pressure”, by Michael L. Fine, Shweta Lahiri, Amanda D. H. Sullivan, Mark Mayo, Scott H. Newton and Edward N. Sismour, which was published in the July 2014 journal, Evolution: The International Journal of Organic Evolution.

Catfishes are one of the most successful groups of vertebrates, with over 3,000 different species. One of the adaptations that have led to their success is a pectoral spine that looks like a medieval weapon. When locked at a right angle, the spines increase the catfish's size and make it harder for predators to eat them. In this study, Fine and colleagues have shown that domesticated channel catfish that have not experienced fish predation for a number of generations have smaller spines than wild catfish, and that the difference appears to result from changes in selection pressure.


Images of a catfish spine (click to enlarge)