A correspondent just reminded me of this classic paper from the literature—it’s the only contemporary scientific work I know of that managed to combine a discussion of the induction of a tissue by TGF-β and BMP proteins with a discussion of the Hebrew noun tzela to suggest that the book of Genesis wasn’t talking about thoracic ribs at all. All us sneering atheist professors who’ve had to exhibit human skeletons to show the creationists in our classrooms that men are not missing a rib apparently should have been pointing a little lower — where humans are missing a bone.
Deletion of the gulonolactone oxidase gene on 8p21 is a genetic disease that affects 100% of humans. Lack of the enzyme causes severe connective tissue disease and makes humans dependent upon dietary supplements of ascorbic acid; see 240400. Gilbert and Zevit (2001) pointed out that another genetic condition, affecting 100% of human males, is congenital lack of a baculum (os priapi; os penis). Whereas most mammals (including common species such as dogs and mice) and most other primates (except spider monkeys) have a penile bone, human males lack this bone and must rely on fluid hydraulics to maintain erections. The size of the rodent baculum is regulated by the posterior members of the HOXD (142987) set of transcription factors. Gilbert and Zevit (2001) suggested that it was not a costal rib but rather the penile ‘rib’ or baculum that God removed from Adam to create Eve (Genesis 2:21-23). Genesis also states that ‘the Lord God closed up the flesh.’ Gilbert and Zevit (2001) suggested that the raphe on the penis and scrotum was thought to be the surgical scar.
I’m a deformed mutant, a pathetic shadow of my bold, upright ancestors. My only consolation is that all you other guys are, too.