Related topics: lizards

Snake genome research expands understanding of krait venom

Bungarus multicinctus, or the many-banded krait as it commonly called, is a highly venomous elapid snake widely distributed across southern Asia. Available antivenoms show good neutralizing efficacy but can exhibit batch-to-batch ...

The art of getting DNA out of decades-old pickled snakes

Two levels underground, Chicago's Field Museum has a secret bunker. The sub-basement Collections Resource Center houses millions of biological specimens for scientists around the world to use in their research, including ...

Why can't snakes blink?

Spoiler alert: if you ever find yourself engaged in a staring contest with a snake, you'll lose.

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Snakes are elongate legless carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Like lizards, from which they evolved, they have loosely articulated skulls and most can swallow prey much larger than their own head. In order to accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes' paired organs (such as kidneys) appear one in front of the other instead of side by side, and most have only one functional lung. Some species retain a pelvic girdle with a pair of vestigial claws on either side of the cloaca.

Living snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica. Fifteen families are currently recognized comprising 456 genera and over 2,900 species. They range in size from the tiny, 10 cm long thread snake to pythons and anacondas of up to 7.6 m (25 ft) in length. The recently discovered fossil Titanoboa was 13 m or 43 ft long. Snakes are thought to have evolved from either burrowing or aquatic lizards during the Cretaceous period (c 150 Ma). The diversity of modern snakes appeared during the Paleocene period (c 66 to 56 Ma).

Most species are non-venomous and those that have venom use it primarily to kill and subdue prey rather than for self-defense. Some possess venom potent enough to cause painful injury or death to humans.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA