Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Centaur anatomy

The Annals of Improbable Research have opened their archives, making the important research in their pages available to the general public for the first time. Of note for BioInSF readers: the September/October 2006 Issue that details the anatomy of the centaur (pdf).

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  1. Would a centaur creature be biologically plausible? I don't know of any centaur-type vertebrates on Earth, though they appear sometimes in science fiction.

  2. There are some centaur-like aliens in science fiction (for example in James White's short story "Custom Fitting"). I don't think centaurs, pegasuses or similar creatures are very unlikely here on Earth, because most living vertebrates have four limbs* and centaurs have six (four legs, two arms)!

    * snakes have no limbs, but there is evidence that they evolved from a four-limbed ancestor

  3. Anonymous10:08 AM

    The whole thing about the brain being "too small"... It wouldn't need to be bigger if they had a modified spinal cortex to help command the rear end. I hear that's how some giant dinosaurs managed to function in spite of tiny brains. Also, I'm pretty sure their diets would not be the same as a Human's and they would need the longer, horse intestines to absorb enough nutrients.

  4. I'd much rather like to see a comprehensive study of what a Centaur would look like anatomically with modern day knowledge of the biological organism.
    The idea of two sets of lungs, two stomachs and guts and two hearts is ridiculous. It is derived from simply merging shapes whose inside were largely unknown back then.
    No upper ribcage is needed, the arms might more likely be anchored to something akin to a second pelvic bone. Also the head and throat would need to be larger to allow enough air to pass into the lungs.


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