Why, unlike other animals, humans do not have tails

The sudden genetic mutation that allowed us to walk upright and without a tail

Primates remind us that 25 million years ago we also had tails

Human evolution is full The dramatic changes that have shaped our species As we know it today. One of these important changes is the loss of the tail. While many other animals, including our close relatives primates, They have tails, and humans lack this structure. This article explores the reasons behind this evolutionary difference, Modern scientific discoveries Which sheds light on the process and implications of these findings.

Development of tail loss

almost 25 million years ago, A common ancestor of humans and great apes separated from apes and lost its tail. This transformation is One of the most distinctive adaptations in primate evolution. The tail, which in many animals functions for balance, communication and other functions, is no longer necessary Our ancestors adopted new ways of moving and living.

Role of the TBXT gene

The key to understanding why humans Our tail lies in genetics. A study recently published in the journal Nature A specific mutation in the TBXT gene, Also known as T-Box. This gene Involved in tail development In the animals you own. Researchers discovered that in great apes and humans, this gene underwent significant changes due to the introduction of repetitive DNA elements They are called Alu elements.

The function of the elements of Alo

Alu elements are DNA sequences that… They can move within the genome and change the function of genes. These “jumping genes” are limited to primates played a decisive role In our evolution. In the case of the TBXT gene, Two Alu elements were inserted into the introns, Non-coding regions of DNA. This insertion caused a change in how the gene’s RNA was processed, removing an essential part of the genetic code that directs… Tail formation.

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Alternative splicing and its impact

the operation that Different parts of messenger RNA They are spliced ​​to produce multiple types of protein known as alternative splicing. This mechanism One of the reasons why human physiology is so complex. In the case of the TBXT gene, the presence of Alu elements causes the resulting alternative splicing A copy of mRNA that cannot produce a tail. This change has been preserved in all great apes and is completely absent in apes, indicating a major evolutionary change.

Evolutionary consequences of tail loss

The tail was missing Profound effects on our ancestors. One of the most widely accepted theories is that it allowed… evolution of bipedalism, That is, the ability to walk on two legs. Without a tail for balance, our ancestors evolved a body structure that favored an upright posture and bipedal movement. This in turn Freed up hands to handle tools, Build shelters and carry out other required activities Manual dexterity.

Why, unlike other animals, humans do not have a tail 2

Thanks to the loss of the tail, humans begin to walk upright

Relationship with birth defects

Interestingly, the study also found that the mutation in The TBXT gene is associated with an increased risk of spina bifida. A birth defect that affects the growth of the spine. The researchers noted that Transgenic mice To include these elements, Alu also showed a higher prevalence of spina bifida. This suggests that it was the mutation that allowed us to lose our tail as well It can have unwanted side effects In neural tube development.

The future of genetic research

Discovery How to add elements and alternative linking The impact of the loss of the human tail opened new horizons Research in genetics and evolution. Scientists can now explore how other complex mutations contributed to this Important evolutionary traits in humans and other primates. Furthermore, a better understanding of these processes could have implications for medicine, Especially in the treatment and prevention of defects Birth related to neural tube development.

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The importance of scientific curiosity

Discover the role Alu elements in human tail loss It is a testament to the power of scientific curiosity. Bo Xia, lead author of the study He became interested in the origin of the structure of the tailbone after suffering a personal injury. This interest led him to discover something that thousands of other researchers had overlooked. His story stands out How seemingly simple questions can lead to revolutionary discoveries When approached with an inquisitive mind and rigorous focus.

Why, unlike other animals, humans do not have tails

Darwin’s studies were fundamental to arriving at the conclusion that in the past we had a tail

Final thoughts on why humans don’t have tails

Tail loss in humans is Just one of the many evolutionary changes that have shaped our species. This latest discovery about Mutation in the TBXT gene and Alu elements It provides us with deep insight into how small genetic changes can have big effects on our physiology and abilities. This finding adds to and reminds us of our understanding of human evolution Gene mutations can be beneficial and harmful.

It’s interesting to think about that, just like this mutation allowed us to develop bipedal walking, There are other mutations that have also provided advantages for some individuals. For example, 4 beneficial genetic mutations in some humans contribute to characteristics such as disease resistance, increased bone density, and the ability to… Living at high altitudes.

In addition, genetic differences can also explain more everyday aspects of our diversity, such as why there are left-handed people as science shows. Genetic research continues to reveal the complex mechanisms underlying these differences, Enrich our knowledge about what makes us human.

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In short, tail loss and other genetic mutations They provide us with a window into the complexity of human evolution and adaptation. As we advance our understanding of genetics, we continue to discover its wonders Our biology And the mysterious paths that led us to where we are today.

Why don’t humans have tails?

Humans do not have tails due to a mutation in the TBXT gene, which occurred about 25 million years ago.

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