Burmese pythons are among the largest snakes in the world — by the way, if you've got herpetophobia, it only gets worse from here — and they've managed to spread around the globe thanks to the exotic pet industry. But scientists aren't fascinated by their tendency to become an invasive species almost everywhere they go, or their habit of consuming cow-sized animals whole. No, it's the fact that a python will often let its heart, liver, and small intestine atrophy during a months-long fast, then, like one of the X-Men, suddenly regenerate all their internal organs when the need arises. With the help of a gene-sequencing supercomputer, researchers at Texas Advanced Computing Center got an idea of how the giant snakes pull it off. They think that one day, humans will be able to do it too.
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Written by Reuben Westmaas July 1, 2017
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