Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cool "snake" I saw the other night and convergent evolution

So around 7pm the other night I was taking a walk with my wife and baby boy (we live in Tampa, FL) and we saw this cool snake:


It was quite docile and never struck at the stick I poked it with.  It didn't move very efficiently, not much of a slither, more of a thrashing around kind of movement.  It's belly was yellow and smooth, and it had a funny tip to its tail.

Now, I quite like snakes.  My mom signed me up for NOAH (the northern Ohio association of herpitologists) when I was 10, and she and I went to all the meetings and I got to visit some labs of herpitologists at the local universities.  After about a year, she let me get a red-tailed boa (who I named Rocky, as in Rocky BalBOA).  This snake was awesome - my mom used to vacuum with it around her neck, and it cuddled with our golden retriever, Casey.  No Joke.  We eventually got a California kingsnake (Damian) as well, but it wasn't as friendly.  Anyways, I digress.  The point is, I like snakes, so I was curious about this one, that I didn't recognize, in my own neighborhood.

So I looked at this nice website called Florida Backyard Snakes.  And, I got bupkis.

So I crowd-sourced the ID to twitter, and within 20 minutes, was told by two users (thank you @LinkLayer and @GaryBurness) that it wasn't a snake at all, but a legless lizard! (The Eastern Glass Lizard, Ophisaurus ventralis to be precise) So, there's the nature lesson for the weekend.  Not a cancer related one, but fun nonetheless.  But, if I stretch, I could say this post is really about convergent evolution, something which many cancer cells experience as they "find" the invasive/metastatic/glycolytic phenotype.  There, cancer connection.  Done!

Also, how awesome is my mom?  

Happy Mother's Day Momma, thanks for instilling a life long curiosity into this boy - I'll pay you back by doing the same for my kiddos.