Title
Extraordinary incidence of cervical ribs indicates vulnerable condition in Late Pleistocene mammoths Extraordinary incidence of cervical ribs indicates vulnerable condition in Late Pleistocene mammoths
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Publication type
article
Publication
Subject
Biology
Engineering sciences. Technology
Source (journal)
PeerJ
Volume/pages
2(2014) , 9 p.
ISSN
2167-8359
Article Reference
e318
ISI
000347566100003
Carrier
E-only publicatie
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
The number of cervical vertebrae in mammals is highly conserved at seven. We have shown that changes of this number are selected against due to a coupling with major congenital abnormalities (pleiotropic effects). Here we show that the incidence of abnormal cervical vertebral numbers in Late Pleistocene mammoths from the North Sea is high (33.3%) and approximately 10 times higher than that of extant elephants (3.6%). Abnormal numbers were due to the presence of large cervical ribs on the seventh vertebra, which we deduced from the presence of rib articulation facets on sixth (posterior side) and seventh (anterior side) cervical vertebrae. The incidence of abnormal cervical vertebral numbers in mammoths appears to be much higher than in other mammalian species, apart from exceptional sloths, manatees and dugongs and indicates a vulnerable condition. We argue that the increased incidence of cervical ribs in mammoths is probably caused by inbreeding and adverse conditions that impact early pregnancies in declining populations close to extinction in the Late Pleistocene.
Full text (open access)
https://repository.uantwerpen.be/docman/irua/f1d2fe/3413cad1.pdf
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