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How 1 lucky fish species adapted to extreme pollution

The combination of a big population, good genes and luck helps explain how a species of fish in Texas' Houston Ship Channel was able to adapt to what normally would be lethal levels of toxins for most other species, according to a new study. Scientists unveiled the exceptional survivor story of the Gulf killifish so they could learn more about what other species may need to adapt to drastically changed environments. The minnowlike Gulf killifish are an important part of the food web for a number of larger fish species in coastal marsh habitats. Shown here: Embryos from resistant (left) and sensitive (right) populations of Gulf killifish dosed at the same concentration of industrial contaminants. The resistant population embryo develops a normal, two-chambered heart with proper blood flow; the sensitive embryo develops a string heart with no blood flow. The sensitive embryo is unlikely to survive to hatch.

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