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Marsupial embryo jumps ahead in development
Date:11/29/2010

e of its scarce number of early cells to building those structures, Smith said. The plans are in place for the hind limbs, but not the bricks to build them.

The embryo emerges from the mother with burly forearms that include bones and well developed muscles, while the hind limbs are small and rubbery.

Blind, hairless and with an incomplete brain, a marsupial embryo is shockingly underdeveloped to be living outside the womb. But the system obviously works for marsupials.

"There are probably 50 explanations for why marsupials develop outside the womb, and none of them are very good," Smith said. It's pretty clear however that the external development gives the female a lot more control over her reproduction. If conditions change or she runs out of food, the marsupial mother can easily terminate an external pregnancy.


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Contact: Karl Leif Bates
919-681-8054
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

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