UF researchers find genetic change that caused snakes to lose legs

UF researchers find genetic change that caused snakes to lose legs

UF researchers find genetic change that caused snakes to lose legs

About 150 million years ago, snakes roamed about on well-developed legs. Now, two University of Florida researchers have discovered how snakes’ legs eventually disappeared.

Snakes lost their legs due to a trio of mutations in a genetic switch — known as an enhancer — that controls the activity of a gene required for limb development, according to research by Martin Cohn, Ph.D., a professor of molecular genetics and microbiology in the UF College of Medicine, and Ph.D. candidate Francisca Leal. The findings appear today (Oct. 20) in the journal Current Biology.

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