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Biological & Biomedical Sciences
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The Locomotive Skeletal Changes (Essay Sample)




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The Skeletal Changes That Had to Occur for Vertebrates to Be Able To Survive On Land
Vertebrate is a classification of animals that have backbones. The significant categories under this classification include fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The contra group of vertebrates lack the distinguishing feature backbone. They are classified into categories of worms and jellyfish or animals such as insects with hard outer casing over their bodies like spiders. With respect to the different classes of vertebrates, water is the primary habitat of fish. At the same time, some amphibians and reptiles evolved and adapted over time in order to survive on land. This essay highlights the skeletal changes that had to occur for vertebrates to be able to survive on land.
Vertebrates transition from aquatic to terrestrial habitats during the Devonian geological period. The novel biological and physical conditions presented a plethora of challenges to the ancestrally marine organisms (Ashley-Ross 192). The vertebrates had to institute biological changes in the physiological mechanisms and morphological processes that would address the new environment's significant challenges, including respiration, movement, reproduction, and feeding (192). These challenges and other analogous demands of the novel surroundings led to the elucidation of the functional demands to both aquatic and terrestrial habitats.
The sequence of evolutionary changes that enabled vertebrates to overcome the challenges has been studied with references to fossil record examinations. Key vertebrate taxa fossil studies uncover morphological data that converted the bodies specialized to underwater movement to terrestrial mechanisms that facilitate movement in the realm (Ashley-Ross 193. Data from the Acanthostega and Tiktaalik shows that even though the musculoskeletal systems that are suited for producing movement in a low-gravity viscous environment are not applicable to producing terrestrial locomotion, early tetrapods assimilated the movement across the land by moving in a salamander-like fashion (194). It is posited that the early adoption of land invasion by the amphibians was through lateral bending of the vertebrae column integrated with limb movement.
Even so, the side-to-side movement was not applicable to all vertebrates. Data from Ichthyostega shows that reconstruction of the joint allowed movement of crutching. The movement involved thrusting the body forward vis synchronized and cyclic mechanisms (Davis 227). Furthermore, the vertebrates modified fins into limbs. The fin/limb patterning involves Hox gene expression. The feature drives the development of the manus and digits in mammals (Davis 228). The transformation of fins to limb demonstrated the vertebrates were able to permanently colonize the terrestrial landscape. Still, this notion allowed the rise of hypotheses that extant teleost could move proficiently over land entirely without limbs (Gibb et al. 651). The axial musculoskeletal system would facilitate this hypothesis through the flexion-plus-extension movements. Thus, there increased likelihood for a continuum conquering of land by extant fishes

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