This story is going around the blogosphere. The article entitled New genetic data overturn long-held theory of limb development is consistent with a theme notably advanced at Telic Thoughts. When I first started following threads at TT I was struck by a particular criticism of front loading, namely that it was indistinguishable from standard theories and likely to be cut down to size by Occam's razor. But would standard theories predict that a developmental toolkit for biological structures would appear in species who are ancestors rather than descendents of species in whom the structures are expressed? On the other hand would this not be exactly what one would expect to see predicted by a theory holding that the nature of subsequent evolution was loaded at the outset? From the article:
The paper, "An autopodial-like pattern of Hox expression in the fins of a basal actinopterygian fish," shows that the genetic and developmental toolkit that builds limbs with fingers and toes was around long before the acquisition of limbs, according to the scientists, and that this toolkit exists in some primitive form in a living primitive bony fish, the paddlefish.
"We found that the genetic capability seen in tetrapods to build limbs is present in even more primitive fish," said lead author Marcus Davis, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Neil Shubin's lab at the University of Chicago.