Why do almost all mammals have seven cervical vertebrae? Developmental constraints, Hox genes, and cancer.

@article{Galis1999WhyDA,
  title={Why do almost all mammals have seven cervical vertebrae? Developmental constraints, Hox genes, and cancer.},
  author={Frietson Galis},
  journal={The Journal of experimental zoology},
  year={1999},
  volume={285 1},
  pages={19-26}
}
Mammals have seven cervical vertebrae, a number that remains remarkably constant. I propose that the lack of variation is caused by developmental constraints: to wit, changes in Hox gene expression, which lead to changes in the number of cervical vertebrae, are associated with neural problems and with an increased susceptibility to early childhood cancer and stillbirths. In vertebrates, Hox genes are involved in the development of the skeletal axis and the nervous system, among other things. In… CONTINUE READING
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