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Three-Legged Body Plan

  1. Jul 8, 2005 #1
    Since most, if not all, creatures on Earth have an odd number of limbs, do you think a three-legged body plan isnt very plausible?

    This thread was inspired by the aliens in War Of The Worlds...:smile:
     
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  3. Jul 8, 2005 #2

    DaveC426913

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    "Since most, if not all, creatures on Earth have an odd number of limbs,"

    Are you sure you wrote this the way you intended? I think you meant 'even'.


    Anyway, you should consider reading some Stephen J. Gould, such as 'A Wonderful Life'. He is an expert on Earth's early life.

    Virtually all the life on Earth today is descended from one branch of creatures that exsited. Therte was a huge explosion of diversity half a billion years ago, but only one major branch dominated. All that has since descended from that period represents only about 10% of the species in early history. Other branches had myriad body forms, 5-fold symmetry, 10-fold symmetry, twenty-fold symmetry...

    As Gould claims, it is only dumb luck that the creatures that survived are anything like they are. Rewind the film of history, run it again, and we'd get a completely different result.
     
  4. Jul 8, 2005 #3

    Monique

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    Maybe he thinks having two or four legs is strange :tongue:
     
  5. Jul 8, 2005 #4

    Moonbear

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    Well, there certainly can be birth defects such that an organism is born with an odd number of limbs, but except for humans who aren't in too much danger of predation anymore, usually this leaves the odd-limbed critter a little less balanced and a little slower than the others of its species so it is more likely to get gobbled up by a predator. So, in this case, it is very plausible because it does happen, although it's a disadvantage in most cases, so not likely to increase in frequency in the population in any appreciable numbers.
     
  6. Jul 8, 2005 #5

    Moonbear

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    :rofl: Yeah, if he thinks he's seeing lots of creatures with odd numbers of limbs, I think he should have his vision checked very soon.
     
  7. Jul 8, 2005 #6

    brewnog

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    My friend had a cat with three legs, it was an awesome cat. It ended up getting called Tripod.

    It was an amputee though, not sure whether it counts.
     
  8. Jul 8, 2005 #7
    Yeah I meant even number of legs, thats my mistake

    As Gould claims, it is only dumb luck that the creatures that survived are anything like they are. Rewind the film of history, run it again, and we'd get a completely different result.

    Although I dont agree with some of what Gould has to say, this is definately true.

    Yeah, if he thinks he's seeing lots of creatures with odd numbers of limbs, I think he should have his vision checked very soon....or maybe it was just a typo..
     
  9. Jul 8, 2005 #8
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2005
  10. Jul 8, 2005 #9
    What is our "??-fold symmetry"?
     
  11. Jul 8, 2005 #10

    selfAdjoint

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    2-fold; we are basically bilaterally symmetrical. Of course the symmetry isn't exact, but then I don't suppose those Burgess Shale critters were exactly n-fold either. BTW, other reconstructions of those beasties has them looking a lot more reasonable than Gould had them in Wonderful Life. In at least one case he had the fossil upside down. He makes all this noise over the various body plans but I only thought "1001 Clever Things a Bright Young Genome can do with a Homeo Box".
     
  12. Jul 8, 2005 #11
    So early Earth life had five-fold symmetry, ten-fold symmetry, twenty-fold symmetry kinds of creatures running around?, must have been a crazy place!
     
  13. Jul 8, 2005 #12

    I'd have to take issue with that. Are you sure you don't mean something like "Virtually all life in the animal kingdom is descended from one branch
    ..."?

    I know I'm beng pedantic, but virtually all life on the planet has no limbs at all. And the limbed variety... represents hardly any of the genetic diversity on the planet. Feel free to call me a nitpicker.

    Patty
     
  14. Jul 8, 2005 #13
    Thats what he probably meant.
     
  15. Jul 8, 2005 #14
    Well, maybe. I think it is worth mentioning that bacteria and archaea make up 50-80% of the biomasss on the planet.

    Animals are only a few percent. And when you consider genetic diversity, animals got squat compared to bacteria. Gould painted a picture that life became dominated by one branch, but it's more of twig than a branch, if you ask me.

    Nothing personal, I teach microbiology and get in a huff when people downplay these fascinating organisms.
     
  16. Jul 8, 2005 #15
    No one is downplaying them, we were simply talking about animals, insects, etc...thats it.
     
  17. Jul 8, 2005 #16
    I feel like I have walked into the twilight zone.

    "No one is downplaying them."

    "Virtually all the life on Earth today is descended from one branch of creatures that exsited. " (referring to animals.)

    Wrong. Period. "Virtually all life" on the planet is not even in the animal kingdom. By a large margin!

    I'm not trying to derail your thread. I'm not! I'm correcting a rather glaring error.
     
  18. Jul 8, 2005 #17
    I dont know, anyways...pattylou I just sent you a PM, I'd appreciate it if you reply.

    Thanks.
     
  19. Jul 8, 2005 #18

    Moonbear

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    Yes, you're right. Thanks for picking up on that. It is an important clarification.
     
  20. Jul 8, 2005 #19

    DaveC426913

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    Doh. Macro animal life. Stupid of me to be so ... Kingdomist.
     
  21. Jul 8, 2005 #20
    -- Okay, in order to prevent any misunderstanding: I am assuming that with "creatures" you particularly meant arthropods and vertebrates. --

    I have no theory of why they have an even number of legs, but it goes hand in hand with bilateral symmetry. For each one on the left side there is another one on the right side.

    (Many molluscs have only 1 foot; not an odd number of legs but at least an odd number of feet)
     
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