Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

SNAPSHOT: How The Devil Ray Got Its Horns

D-briefBy Alison MackeyDecember 5, 2018 12:50 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

(Credit: Justin Henry/zappowbang via Flickr) How did the manta ray get its horns? That’s something biologists at San Francisco State University have been trying to figure out. While not actual horns, the two fleshy growths are the reason why the manta are called “devil rays.” A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution shows that these hornlike lumps, known as “cephalic lobes,” are actually the foremost part of the manta ray’s fin and not separate appendages, as previously believed. Scientists collected genetic samples from devil ray embryos during different stages of fin development to see which genes were active. They paid particular attention paid to the “Hox” group of genes, which are crucial to appendage development in all animals. With the right genes activated, the research team watched a tiny notch in the ray’s fin get deeper and wider, growing into two distinct parts — one for swimming, one for feeding … the all-purpose fin!

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In