Skip to comments.Elephant's sixth 'toe' discovered
Posted on 12/26/2011 8:28:17 PM PST by SunkenCiv
A mysterious bony growth found in elephants' feet is actually a sixth "toe", scientists report.
For more than 300 years, the structure has puzzled researchers, but this study suggests that it helps to support elephants' colossal weight.
Fossils reveal that this "pre-digit" evolved about 40 million years ago, at a point when early elephants became larger and more land-based.
The research is published in the journal Science.
Lead author Professor John Hutchinson, from the UK's structure and motion laboratory at the Royal Veterinary College, said: "It's a cool mystery that goes back to 1706, when the first elephant was dissected by a Scottish surgeon."
Many people, he said, thought that the structure was a huge lump of cartilage, and over the years its purpose or lack of purpose has been debated.
"Anyone who has studied elephants' feet has wondered about it. They've thought: 'Huh, that's weird,' and then moved on," he added.
But Prof Hutchinson and colleagues used a combination of CT scans, histology, dissection and electron microscopy to solve the puzzle.
The researchers said the structure was made of bone, although bone with a highly irregular and unusual arrangement.
But closer examination also revealed that it showed a strong similarity with an unusual bone that is found in the front feet of pandas.
This bone - which is not quite an extra digit, but does the job of one - helps the panda to grip bamboo, and is called the panda's "thumb" or "sixth finger". Moles too have a bone masquerading as an extra digit, which helps them to dig.
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...
This CT scan reveals the sixth "toe" - here seen in dark green towards the back on the elephant's foot
In related news, an elephants sex organs are in its feet.
(If he steps on you, you’re f’ed!)...
Camel toe is much more interesting.
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
I may have to start pinging these topics twice, once to each half of the list. The system gives me the half-result page as it has done most of the time these past couple of years, but as of the past few days, pinging fails almost half the time. This is my second attempt at this topic.
Sixth “toe” is for communication!
They used it to dial rotary phones, way back when.....
First thing I did with grand-daughter 2.0 was count fingers and toes, just like I did with grandson 1.0, grandson 2.1 etc....
Why 5? Why not 3? or 7? I've seen critters or people with both.
Insects and spiders seem to do ok with 6 and 8 limbs, mammels seem to have 4...
More stuff that makes you go... "Hmmm. I'm glad I'm not in charge of this stuff"
From my perverse childhood:
Do you know what that stuff is between the elephant’s toes?
Male Worker #1: Nice girl.
Male Worker #2: Yeah, she really is. Too bad about her hands.
[ Sheila looks at her hand sadly, revealing that she has seven fingers on each hand ]
Announcer: You've tried sanding them off. You've tried slamming them off. And mitts only hide the problem. There's no way around it - you've got extra fingers. It's time for Handi-Off. Only Handi-Off contains Leprosin. [ Sheila applies Handi-Off to her extra fingers ] That tingle will tell you it's working. In just three days, unsightly fingers disappear - for good! [ Sheila's extra fingers fall off ]
[ back at the office ]
Male Worker 2: Hey, Sheila. Pick you up at six?
Sheila: Let's make it five! [ holds her hand up to reveal she now has five fingers on each hand, and winks at the camera ]
Announcer: Subtract your extra digits with Handi-Off. Now there's new Toe-Riffic for toes.
Go to your room!
Shibumi will like that....:)
[especially the “oui oui oui” part]
Mon Cherie (Notice the pun?) You know what it does to me when you speak French.......
.......It makes me think of frogs croaking in the swamp in spring ..... The Sound of Romance ..... the Amphilibido.....
before I clicked the link and watched the vid, I was going to say it was an elongated carpal bone on the pinky side of the wrist joint...aka the pisiform bone and not very odd for a mammal.
but the vid clearly show it is not the pisiform carpal bone. The vid shows it is a branch off the metacarpal bone of the pinky finger...aka digit V.
THAT IS STRANGE
uh, cats with extra toes are deformed. This bone on the elephant is not a deformity.
Did you know elephants have striated muscle in their penis?
Q: How do you shoot a blue elephant?
A: With a blue elephant gun, of course.
Q: How do you shoot a red elephant?
A: No, not with a red elephant gun. You strangle him until he turns blue, and then shoot him with a blue elephant gun.
Q: How do you shoot a green elephant?
A: Tell him a dirty joke so he turns red, strangle him until he turns blue, and then shoot him with a blue elephant gun.
There’s an area in Michigan (I forget where exactly, I used to work with someone from there) that has (or had at that time) a high incidence of polydactyl cats. OTOH, when housecats are mated with bobcats (that’s what we call the American lynx in these parts), they always wind up with huge feet, and generally polydactyl as well.
Being an expert on that subject I must admit that thought never entered my mind.......
Probably a case of tolio.
ditto....and that whole line makes me think of the "do you have six fingers on your hand" bit from Princess Bride.
Makes me want to ask the guy if he always starts conversations that way. :)
That must be the Beohner spot- the one that when touched by a jackass, causes the elephant to cave.
"It's a cool mystery that goes back to 1706, when the first dissection of an elephant was carried out by a Scottish surgeon."
*nully looks around nervously*
Um, is there a punch line coming?
*nully cringes in anticipation*
Q: What did Tarzan say when a herd of elephants came over the hill?
Are you sure this isn’t the same surgeon who later gained fame with the autopsies of Adam and Eve?
No, really, voluntary muscle.
Difficult to get descriptive on a family forum.
Kinda like 6 way control rather than 2.
Uh... That could be handy...
if it took 40 million years to ‘evolve’ this partial toe, how do you explain eyeballs or the brain...??
Some of these things (like an eyeball) only work as a whole- they only work if all the pieces work. How do you ‘evolve’ something that needs to be whole in order to work? You would have to spontaneously generate a complete eye.
The steps are well documented.
Each incremental step provides a survival advantage.
Only someone willfully ignorant would deliberately lie about this.
Or perhaps just someone who thinks their god needs to be protected from the truth?
I guess some gods just can't handle the truth...
hey you ASS
I am NOT willfully ignorant OR deliberately lying, what the hell do I have to gain by that? And why the hell would you make such an accusation against someone you don’t know?
I am expressing my opinion (as an actual scientist) based in the data I have seen.
The steps are NOT “well documented”, and no ‘intermediary species’ has ever been found- do you hear that - EVER.
We see complete eyeballs, but never the millions of evolutionary years and incremental steps to MAKE a complete eyeball through evolution. (or the dead bodies of those creatures, which should be millions of times more prevalent)
My ‘God’ does not need protecting from anyone. Nothing I have read either way (evolution or not) disproves the existance of God.
The pit in pit viper is a living example of about half the steps towards an infra red eye.
Light (IR) sensitive cells. Advantage: knows something warm nearby. (for visible, knows if it's day or night, knows when a predator's shadow looms over).
Gathered in a patch. Advantage: more sensitive detection.
Patch curved to make a cup. Advantage: self shadowing gives some sense of directionality.
Cup pinches in to make a pin hole camera. Advantage: actual crude image formation.
Pinhole gets transparent cover. Advantage: protects imaging surface from damage, accumulated crud.
Transparent cover thickens into lens. Advantage: sharper image.
Specialized skin muscles learn to distort lens. Advantage: Ability to focus on details.
We call the resulting miraculous structure an eye
I am expressing my opinion (as an actual scientist)
For those actually interested in an accessible account of the workings of evolution I recommend Sean B. Carroll's "The Making of the Fittest"
The infrared sensor is the beginning of an evolving eye?
What about a snake’s REAL eyes? Is it ‘evolving’ a new one?
And what about the steps between becoming an infrared sensor and an eyeball ?
show me a few dead bodies that have such intermediary steps?
The infrared sensor is already ‘evolved’ - into an infrared sensor.
imagine just ONE of your steps- “Transparent cover thickens into lens. Advantage: sharper image.” All the stpes to thicken a lens are useless until the lens thickens. You sort of need the whole thing at once for it to ba an kind of evolutionary advantage.
So... show me some dead bodies that have those previous steps you mentions?
It sounds great in theory- now show me some proof of it, somewhere. I have no proof about God creating everything either- so my theory is equally valid, without proof, as yours. Except that your fails for complex structures that need to be 100% formed to work at all.
Nope, not what I said. It is well into the process of becoming an IR eye.
What about a snakes REAL eyes?
What about them?
Is it evolving a new one?
Yes. it is evolving IR sensitive eyes IN ADDITION TO its perfectly good daylight eyes.
Pit vipers that are better at getting prey live longer and have more little baby pit vipers. Being better able to locate warm blooded prey increases an individual viper's ability to eat.
And what about the steps between becoming an infrared sensor and an eyeball?
See previous post. I detailed all the major steps there, for anyone with eyes to see.
show me a few dead bodies that have such intermediary steps?
Why? I Know from experience with your ilk that each transition fossil, rather than filling a gap, only servers to create two new smaller gaps on either side, at least in the mind of a determined creationist.
No matter how small the new gaps are, they will always be too wide for you to bridge.
If you are serious, read Carroll's book. He cites examples. Otherwise...
imagine just ONE of your steps- Transparent cover thickens into lens. Advantage: sharper image.
OK, let's image that, shall we?
All the steps to thicken a lens are useless until the lens thickens.
You assume that a thicker membrane doesn't resist puncture better than a thinner one because why? You do remember the original purpose was to protect the delicate innards, don't you?
You sort of need the whole thing at once for it to be any kind of evolutionary advantage.
Only if you assume that 20/20 vision is the only thing "good" enough
If you are incapable of seeing an advantage of 20/100 vision over 20/200 vision, I don't quite know how to enlighten you.
May you never need glasses.
The infrared sensor is already evolved - into an infrared sensor.
Yep, and you assume further improvement is forbidden because?
It sounds great in theory- now show me some proof of it, somewhere.
I have no proof about God creating everything either-
'sok, I know of no proof He didn't.
so my theory is equally valid, without proof, as yours.
There is abundant proof that creatures adapt to become better suited to their environments.
Except that your fails for complex structures that need to be 100% formed to work at all.
Name one. Every step towards a modern complex eye, be it a camera eye, a compound eye, or a simple eye, whether it images with lenses, mirrors or by mechanically scanning a few photosensitive cells, is an improvement over no eye or the previous iteration of eye.
You say you are an "actual scientist". What kind?
You seem to think a cupped sensor will squish down to pinhole camera after millions of years of evolution- That only works if it KNOWS a pinhole camera is a desired goal.
And how many millions of years does it put up with smaller and smaller holes until suddenly they have a pinhole.
Because until it does “squish down to a pinhole” the cupped shadow advantage you previously stated is ruined, less and less light is received, and a wide hole is good for nothing. And then suddenly it decides to grow a lens?
But you’re too much of an ass to debate
I try to make valid points, you repond with smarmy comments, so you are an idiot.
” for anyone with eyes to see. “
“I Know from experience with your ilk that “
go be a jerk off some where else
Excellent! you get one of the major points! Evolution is blind.
It doesn't "know" the goal is a pinhole camera, it only "knows" that deeper and deeper cups give a better and better sense of directionality.
The same way a thicker membrane doesn't "know" its going to be a lens some day, only that it protects the proto-retina better.
I didn't know you had poor vision until I checked your profile page. Sorry.
let’s see... smarmy “know-it-all” comments, lack of ability to see reason, checking my background because you disagree with me...
How long have you been a Liberal?
God thought of everything
That would be down river from Detroit in Monroe......next to the Enrico Fermi Nuclear power plant.
There's a reason why your co-worker never showed you pictures of his kids..........
Yes. And it couldn't be ANY worse. ;)
So are they now even-toed ungulates or are they still odd-toed ungulates?
I looked at your profile page.
So sue me.
For the record, I’ve never been a liberal, libertarian, yes, even a capital L libertarian for a while.
How long have you been unable to confess what kind of scientist you are?
They are odd-and-a-half toed ungulates
And that is very odd.
Some of them are arriba ungulates.
Wow, there are a LOT of different endings to that one.
A: Look! A herd of elephants coming over the hill!
Darwin's Black Box:
The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution
by Michael J. Behe
Molecular Machines webpage (thanks Val)
A: Here come the grapes! (Tarzan is colorblind)...
And? Was it worth reading?
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