Scientists have found a gene that helps snakes develop their long bodies.
They believe that the discovery could help find a cure for spinal injuries.
A new study shows that snakes are long because of a single overactive gene that continues to push embryonic development of the “trunk” of the snake for a significantly longer period than other animals. This overactive gene is a mutation that explains why our slithering friends became too long: The body continues to grow long after other sections of the snake.
The result is a long body and a very short tail. (yeah, the entire snake isn’t actually the tail; we’re learning a lot today).
The body of the snake is anatomically similar to the spinal cord in humans. This particular gene’s discovery has given scientists what could be the materials needed to learn how to make the spinal cord heal itself, or regenerate after injury. Meaning that snake genes might be beneficial to humans, even beyond the opportunity for lawyer jokes.
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