It seems only fitting that a podcast series called Along the Backbone should discuss the formation of the backbone in one of lengthiest vertebrates: snakes.
Podcast Teaser: Snakes are lizards. More specifically, snakes are limbless, eyelidless, earless lizards with megakinetic skulls and well-developed salivary glands that often produce venom. Among the many standout features of snakes, perhaps the most fascinating is how these vertebrates routinely develop a body that will have 120 or more rib-bearing vertebrae and no limbs. It turns out that a simple but profound difference in the timing of the expression of developmental genes called HOX genes renders snakes limbless, whereas an increase in the frequency of another set of clock-like genes generates their amazing number of vertebrae.
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Transcript available upon request.