Sunday, September 19, 2010

SNAKE FAMILY: Transformation

Snakes are highly specialized predators. Although They are simple in form, Snakes are equipped for tracking, subduing, and devouring their prey. They are a recent development in the evolution of Reptiles. In addition to losing their legs, Snakes have modified their jaws to swallow large meals. Moreover, They have developed some of the most virulent poisons known among animals.

Scientists divide the Snake Family into two groups – Blind Snakes (Scolecophidia) and Modern Snakes (Alethinophidia). The Modern Snake Family is further divided into fifteen families. Of this, only three groups are venomous, with the remainder being constrictors.

Venomous Snakes use venom to paralyze their prey, so They can eat it. Since these Snakes inject venom into their victim, They are properly referred to as “venomous”. (“Poisonous” means harmful by ingesting.) Venomous Snakes are the Rear-fanged Snakes (such as Boomslang) of the Colubrid Family, and the families that consist only of venomous Snakes – the Elapids (Cobras) and Vipers (Rattlesnakes).

The non-venomous Snakes either kill their prey by swallowing or by constriction. Snakes such as Boas still have rudimentary hind limbs on their bodies. Some of the largest Snakes in the world are the constrictors. In fact, Anacondas who live in the waters of the Amazon are usually considered the source for many monster Snake stories.

Modern people often think of snakes as animals to kill on sight. However, the ancient Greeks and Romans thought of Snakes as being beneficent. They valued Snakes for their healing powers, and for protecting their families from harm. Perhaps we can rethink our views of Snakes and consider Them helpful.

Snakes demonstrate the principle of transformation. Evolving from primitive burrowing Lizards, They have diversified into nearly three thousand species. Snakes have reduced their skeleton to a skull, jaws, and a long backbone. Furthermore, They rearranged their internal anatomy to fit their thinner, rounder, longer shape. Their skin is a mosaic of glossy, dry scales set in an elastic skin which They shed about four times a year to enable growth.

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