Monday, July 21, 2008

slithering snakes

A question that I often wondered about (without actually bothering to investigate) is answered in the current issue of Nature: how did snakes manage to come up with such a spectacularly different body plan from all other vertebrates? It's not just that they have no limbs, they have up to 500 vertebrae, which is a feat that needs some explaining. A paper in Nature, accompanied by a N&V, now suggests that the developmental clock runs at a different speed for snakes, giving them time to develop more vertebrae.

Intriguing stuff. And a movie script that basically writes itself. Mad scientist fiddles with the human development clock, produces generation of snake-like babies ...

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