Embryonic Development and Evolution of Snake Fangs

PZ Meyers highlights the importance of looking at the embryonic development of an organism if one is to ascertain the evolutionary origins of interesting morphological characteristics, like fangs!

The key innovation in snake evolution was a subtle one, an uncoupling of two tooth-generating regions that opened the door to more flexibility in the modification of the jaws. The fang/venom gland complex probably evolved once in the common ancestor of these groups, but the elapids and vipers independently stumbled on a secondary change, the suppression of the anterior region, that allowed the posterior fangs to move forward to make a more effective poison delivery system.

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