Skip

Prime Vertebrae
August 13, 2007 9:00 PM   Subscribe

Prime Vertebrae. PZ Myers discusses the critical difference between having six or seven cervical vertebrae.
posted by homunculus (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Evolutionary development biologist, Frietson Galis and others examined fetuses that had been spontaneously aborted, or medically aborted due to detected fetal abnormalities, and discovered that an astonishing 55 percent of them had ribs on the seventh vertebra. Recall that adults have this same pattern with a frequency of about 1 percent. It's clear that having six instead of seven cervical vertebrae is associated with a severely deleterious effect on viability.

Heh, that God, he's a crazy one: always goin' on and on about protecting life and then - BAM! - he gives you a fetus with a fatal mutation. What a cad!

Seriously though, I'm surprised that having one less cervical vertebrae is such a bellwether for fatal mutations. You wouldn't think so using just "common sense", but the nature seems to care very little for what we think is "sensical".
posted by Avenger at 9:13 PM on August 13, 2007


Yes, but what does this have to teach us about morality?
Of course, I've said it before, but I'll say it again: Pharyngula rules.


posted by inoculatedcities at 9:17 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Evolutionism is wrong agian, the answer is because 7 is God's Divine number, duh.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:20 PM on August 13, 2007


If you liked that article you'll probably the blog The Loom by Carl Zimmer.
posted by delmoi at 9:22 PM on August 13, 2007


Very interesting article.

If you want to hear some stuff about evolution that's even more out there, just the other day I read about transposons. Basically, bits of your DNA have evolved to replicate themselves in a sort of viral way, without much regard for the health of you or the rest of your DNA.

Also read the endosymbiotic theory about mitochondria. It seems some symbiotic bacteria managed to get themselves into the genome of a larger cell, and become essential to all the higher forms of life.

Evolution is really weird.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:26 PM on August 13, 2007


And there's more evolution commentary from Jason Rosenhouse at Evolution Blog via Scienceblogs.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:26 PM on August 13, 2007


Also read the endosymbiotic theory about mitochondria.

Ah, and don't forget to read up on origins of chloroplasts and apicoplasts of Plasmodia. Not only there is endosymbiosis, but there is secondary and maybe even tertiary endosymbiosis. That last one is pretty iffy, because apparently it's hard to figure out how many membranes apicoplasts have.

Seriously though, I'm surprised that having one less cervical vertebrae is such a bellwether for fatal mutations.

I think it's just that having a wrong number of cervical vertebrae is the most visible of the number of developmental abnormalities. There is so much really important stuff in the neck, and the way that an embryo develops, a lot of things move through that region during development.
posted by c13 at 10:05 PM on August 13, 2007


If you liked that article you'll probably the blog The Loom by Carl Zimmer.

Zimmer is the man. Anyone who was wrongly denied a basic introduction to the beauty of biology or evolutionary theory should read his book Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea.
posted by inoculatedcities at 10:10 PM on August 13, 2007


PZ Myers is awesome. He does a good job actually explaining how genetics controls form and function. It's rather nice that someone sticks up for genetics as a science, not genetics as wishy-washy nonproven explanation for social phenomena that I see too commonly in the U.S. I first found his column in SEED magazine, the only good part of that hipster take on science.
posted by desiderandus at 10:33 PM on August 13, 2007


Zimmer has goofy hair. He's not to be trusted.
posted by homunculus at 10:38 PM on August 13, 2007


Giraffes have seven.

I KNEW THIS BEFORE READING THE ARTICLE!
posted by Citizen Premier at 11:13 PM on August 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Interesting article
posted by caddis at 4:19 AM on August 14, 2007


Fascinating stuff—thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 6:21 AM on August 14, 2007


I heart Pharyngula.
posted by arcticwoman at 2:11 PM on August 14, 2007


While I enjoy reading Pharyngula regularly, and find self-indulgent pleasure in reading his preaching to the athiest choir, science writing is PZ Myers real strength, and is what makes his blog great. He has a real talent for making complex and obscure topics broadly accessable and interesting. Also, his cephalopod fetish is just so endearing.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:04 PM on August 14, 2007


« Older Monstrous Scuplture Garden In Italy   |   Maturing brains. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post