Why are there no limbless mammals?

Only if there is some selective pressure to reduce or eliminate their limbs. The naked mole rats I’ve seen in action are pretty dependent on their four limbs for locomotion, excavation, and feeding and it’s hard to envision them adopting a radically different means of doing business limbless. But who knows?


So was or wasn’t it a genuine description of naked mole rats with no legs? Hard to imagine it wasn’t, it’s too good!


Kinda like a naked mole rat, only no limbs.

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LOL! Yes, I’d never heard of them. Comments made here lead me to think about what such an animal would look like and how it would live. Yet, I was way surprised to read how naked mole rats have a society mirroring ants and termites!


Sidewinders. And for that matter, inchworms (although they are not limbless). Or the way a millipede’s legs move in waves of up and down – the belly could do the same.

And as the Basilarchia example suggests, underwater, it wouldn’t really matter.

these have limbs.

sidewinders do move a little differently than a lot of other snakes, but i wouldn’t describe it as an up and down movement. most snakes, including sidewinders, incorporate some subtle up and down movement because they need to reduce friction, but their body movement, including that of sidewinders, is primarily a side to side movement.

larger snakes like boas can have a different movement that is sort of like an accordion action, which could be approximated by an up and down action, but that kind of movement is slow. look at the way true seals move on land.

so if you move that slowly on land, you won’t be able to defend yourself / flee, unless you’re just massive like an elephant seal, or else you’ll probably have a hard time catching prey. theoretically, if you were an elephant-sized slug-shaped mammal with a sort tail and a long trunk, that might allow you to survive just fine on land while feeding on plants, but i think you would have a really hard time getting to that size because you would be so defenseless until you reached a massive size, and even a herd would have a hard time protecting you, i think.

i think the vertebral limitations are the biggest problem for terrestrial animals to become limbless, but there are other things, too. just for example, you’d have to relocate / redesign mammaries and male genitalia.

aquatic mammals are more likely to go limbless first (because they’ve already solved some of those other design issues), and any future limbless terrestrial mammals are likely to descend from aquatic ancestors, not terrestrial ones, i would think.

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