During the new DC Comics Universe collection "Flashpoint," in i beg your pardon a time-traveling supervillain transforms the previous to warp the present, Life"s little Mysteries gift a 10-part series that examines what would take place if a major event in the history of the universe had actually gone simply slightly different.

You are watching: Do all mammals have 4 limbs

Part 5: What if ... The an initial animals to crawl the end of the ocean had six limbs instead of four?

All land vertebrates mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians room or to be tetrapods, which have two set of combine limbs. (Snakes advanced from four-limbed lizards.) This common body arrangement dates earlier to the late Devonian period, around 400 million years ago, as soon as lobe-finned fish started exploiting brand-new ecological niches in wetlands and eventually do the change to terra firma.

Life would certainly be: Quite most likely in require of much more pant legs and also sleeves, at least if the descendent creatures were of the clothes-wearing variety.

Although paired upper and also lower fins occurred in bony fish, the precursors to tetrapods, there is not a many of proof that this anatomy was selected over, say, 3 pairs or 4 pairs for any evolutionarily reason. "You could think about it somewhat arbitrary," claimed Edward Daeschler, combine curator at the Academy of herbal Sciences in Philadelphia. Land vertebrates all share the same an easy design, yet could it it is in different? Absolutely."

Creatures with more than 4 limbs have not progressed in floor species. In truth the trend is come simplify, as with snakes, which shed their limbs, and horses , which rather of having 5 digits have actually one (a hoof). Six, eight and even leggier arthropods (insects, arachnids and crustaceans) have, that course, to be extraordinarily successful six-limbed beetles alone consist of a quarter of the 1.7 million explained species. However the truth that this creatures have actually exoskeletons fairly than skeleton inside your bodies limits their size, Daeschler called Life"s tiny Mysteries.

Large exoskeletons necessary to support interior body tissue would be prohibitively cumbersome and also heavy, plus would demand lots of power to move and also grow. Due to the fact that intelligence is strongly connected to exactly how big, intricate and energy-consuming one animal"s brain is, that sentience is i can not qualify to evolve in bugs.

Previously: What would certainly life be choose if over there were an ext than two dominant sexes ?

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Adam Hadhazy is a contributing writer for Live Science and Space.com. He often writes about physics, psychology, pet behavior and story topics in basic that discover the blurring line in between today"s scientific research fiction and tomorrow"s scientific research fact. Adam has actually a master of Arts level from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism institute at brand-new York University and a Bachelor the Arts degree from Boston College. When not squeezing in reruns that Star Trek, Adam likes hurling a Frisbee or dining on spicy food. Friend can examine out more of his job-related at www.adamhadhazy.com.