Animal IQ

Don't Panic, But Snakes Still Have The Gene To Grow Legs

Ophidiophobics beware! If you have an abnormal fear of snakes, you may not like this article. Snakes are slithery, slimy, sneaky, and some might even say they're sinister—but at least they don't have legs, right? Well, snakes actually do possess the gene required for limb growth. Does this mean snakes will start sprouting legs? Who's to say for sure how evolution will continue to shape their reptiles. But we do know that snakes used to have legs, which is how the mostly dormant gene got there in the first place.

The Sonic hedgehog gene (yes, that's its real name) is necessary for leg growth, acting as a motor that powers the development of limbs. In snakes, specifically pythons, the gene just kind of flickers on. This can sometimes trigger what looks like a tiny claw to grow from the python's skin. Get some details on why snakes evolved out of their legs in the video below.

How Did Snakes Lose Their Legs?

University of Florida Health researchers look into the leg gene in snakes.

Why Are There No Snakes In Ireland?

Snakes exist in most places around the world.

How To Handle A 100-Pound Python

Keep in mind pythons can sprout little claws where legs should be!

Written by Curiosity Staff November 2, 2016

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