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Scientists have discovered why the scrotum is located between the legs

Scientists have discovered why the scrotum is located between the legs

Elephants and their relatives – the only mammals that do not have a scrotum

MOSCOW, 28 Jun – RIA Novosti. The genomes of elephants and their relatives helped scientists figure out how the scrotum of our ancestors and the males of other animals "moved" from the womb to the point where they are usually located between the legs, according to a paper published in the journal PLoS One.

Scientists have discovered why the scrotum is located between the legsScientists have discovered genes that turns the penis into a kind of vagina

Scientists have discovered why the scrotum is located between the legsElephants and their relatives – the only mammals that do not have a scrotum

MOSCOW, 28 Jun – RIA Novosti. The genomes of elephants and their relatives helped scientists figure out how the scrotum of our ancestors and the males of other animals "moved" from the womb to the point where they are usually located between the legs, according to a paper published in the journal PLoS One.

Scientists have discovered why the scrotum is located between the legs

Scientists have discovered genes that turns the penis into a kind of vagina

"The history of the evolution of the scrotum remains a stumbling block for many evolutionists, as we still don’t know how did the elephants and other African animals whose closest relatives they are"— says Thomas Lehmann (Thomas Lehmann) from the Institute for the study of natural history in Frankfurt am main (Germany).

The testicles of males in most vertebrate animals are inside their bodies, in the vicinity of the kidneys and urinary organs, where they are protected from all possible physical effects. The big exception in this respect were the mammals – their scrotum is not located near the kidney, and between the legs. Causes and history of this "moving" not yet entirely clear.

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In turn, not all male mammals look like. Elephants and their closest relatives-afrotheria (Afrotheria), including manatees, do not have a scrotum and their testicles are located deep in the body. Such differences have long forced scientists to argue about whether the scrotum in the most primitive ancestors of humans and other warm-blooded quadrupeds.

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Lehmann and his colleagues have tried to resolve these contradictions, by studying INSL3 and RXFP2 genes that control the growth of the scrotum and "conducting" the process of moving the testes in the embryo of mammals, has varied over time.

Comparing small sets of mutations in these genes, 71 species of mammals, including elephants, tenrecs, manatees and other afrotheria, scientists have uncovered several interesting things.

Firstly, it was found that the common ancestor of animals possessed both the genome, but both of these areas of DNA have been damaged in the course of their subsequent evolution and division into separate kinds and types. Interestingly, all of them "lost" the scrotum separately from each other, resulting in the occurrence of different mutations in the RXFP2 in different periods of history.

Scientists have discovered why the scrotum is located between the legs

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This, in turn, means that the common ancestor of all mammals had a scrotum, and she got, judging by the time of her loss by the ancestors of the manatees, tenrecs and "sanaysay"-jumpers, before the extinction of the dinosaurs, about 89-90 million years ago.

Unveiling the mystery of the appearance of the scrotum, the scientists came across a new mystery – the elephants themselves, unlike all the rest of their relatives, have "working" version of the RXFP2 gene and only a minor mutations in INSL3. Despite this, they have no scrotum, which makes scientists wonder about that – how it happened and why the sex cells of the elephants do not die from overheating.

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