Snakes, giraffes, turtles and more were in the headlines in 2016
Scientists filled in the details of some famous evolutionary tales in 2016 — and discovered a few surprises about creatures large and small.
By studying a gene family important for toxin production, researchers found that modern rattlesnakes have pared down their venom arsenal over time (SN: 10/15/16, p. 9). Rattlers now have a smaller repertoire of toxins, perhaps more specialized to their prey.
Small tweaks to a gene that makes a protein important for skeletal development may have led to the big toe and helped shape the human foot for bipedalism (SN: 2/6/16, p. 15).
A gut microbe collected from chinchilla