Running for life: How speed restricts evolutionary change of the vertebral column

14 julio 2014

One of the riddles of mammal evolution is explained: the conservation of the number of trunk vertebrae. Dutch and American researchers have shown that this conservation is due to the role of speed in survival of fast running mammals. They measured variation of 774 skeletons of fast and slow species. The researchers found that a combination of developmental and biomechanical problems prevents evolutionary change in the number of trunk vertebrae in fast, but not in slow mammals.