Before they evolve into humans, early-stage embryos have lizard-like hand-muscles in fingers inside the womb which are the last vestiges of evolution, claim scientists. They disappear at birth, leaving the scientists intrigued.
We began as cells in the sea and in between the journey to our evolution as humans we were innumerable other things. Our hands were once a fin and also were webbed in between, or had claws.
These extra muscles rarely exist in adults. Medical scans during the gestation period between 7 to 13 weeks have detected embryos with lizard-like hand muscles.
The muscles detected in the hands may be an old relic of evolution that stayed on in humans. It may have been last useful when the transition from reptiles to mammals took place around 250 million years ago, reports the journal Development. Though, it is not apparent why evolution needs to retain these hangovers in the first place only to delete them before birth. Perhaps it only proves that traces of every stage of our evolution have been retained in our genetic album.
This development may be significant because it makes our thumbs so flexible and slick.
In rare cases of genetic flaws, some humans were equipped with to have a few extra fingers and hand muscles. Yet they are never as intricate as when seen in the 3-dimensional scan of the embryos in the 7 to 13-week period.
In the case of deformities, these reptilian attributes get carried onto birth. Scientists say their study on 15 children with deformed fingers might shed light on this development.
It is seen that the thumb gets more muscles which allow it to be so flexible, accurate, and efficient. This passing on of traits from parents to their offspring is known as ‘Descent with modification.’ It maintains that species evolved by the development of new types of an organism from pre-existing types.
But such transfer of genes is not always correct or accurate. Retaining these extra muscles could also be a hindrance as we lost a lot of muscles for the other fingers. We do not need them as much.
These lizard-like hand muscles are unlike the other unnecessary things in the body like the wisdom tooth or the appendix. These structures point to a certain stage in our evolution. It is apparent that certain structures are disappearing completely or leaving behind traces that help us in determining the path of evolution. But we never know why they disappeared over time.
Another interesting detail is that our feet muscles are similar to our hand muscles when we are in the womb. We lose them while the other primates retain them. We would have retained the ability to hold with our legs had it not been for evolution! Our evolutionary progress has made us just humans instead of super-humans.
We are losing those things which would have turned us into super-humans. But they are lost because we failed to use them. These embryos with lizard-like hand muscles only prove that our genetic code has retained remnants of our evolution from reptiles to humans.
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