Now that we think about it … From Independent:
A quirk of evolution means a particular gene stays ‘switched on’ for longer than usual during snakes’ embryonic development
Dr Rita Aires, from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia (IGC) in Lisbon, Portugal, said: “The formation of different body regions works as a strong-arm contest of genes. Genes involved in trunk formation need to start ceasing activity so that genes involved in tail formation can start working.
“In the case of snakes, we observed that the Oct4 gene is kept active during a longer period of embryonic development, which explains why snakes have such a long trunk and a very short tail.”
An evolutionary change caused the Oct4 gene to be placed next to a DNA region that kept it in an “on” state in the snake embryo, said the researchers. More.
It’s never been clear to many of us why the snake needs to be that long. It could get all its business in life done while much shorter. Maybe this helps us understand.
It’s like the really tall guy who isn’t a basketball star. His tallness is just a embarrassment but he was born that way.
See also: The intelligence of snakes
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