International Journal of Astrobiology

Research Article

The origin of the vertebrate skeleton

Stuart Pivara1

a1 Synthetic Life Lab, 15 W. 67th Street, #4MW, New York, NY 10023, USA e-mail:


The anatomy of the human and other vertebrates has been well described since the days of Leonardo da Vinci and Vesalius. The causative origin of the configuration of the bones and of their shapes and forms has been addressed over the ensuing centuries by such outstanding investigators as Goethe, Von Baer, Gegenbauer, Wilhelm His and D'Arcy Thompson, who sought to apply mechanical principles to morphogenesis. However, no coherent causative model of morphogenesis has ever been presented.

This paper presents a causative model for the origin of the vertebrate skeleton, based on the premise that the body is a mosaic enlargement of self-organized patterns engrained in the membrane of the egg cell. Drawings illustrate the proposed hypothetical origin of membrane patterning and the changes in the hydrostatic equilibrium of the cytoplasm that cause topographical deformations resulting in the vertebrate body form.

(Received April 30 2010)

(Accepted July 15 2010)

(Online publication August 16 2010)