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A recent idea posted here jocularly suggested that all life
evolved from giraffes. Whereas I don't accept this
conjecture, it did serve to remind me of a misconception I
used to have about snakes. I used to believe that snakes
had long necks and long tails, with legless torsos, rather
slim limbless diplodoci. It turns out that snakes are
not like that at all but in fact have long torsos with short
necks and tails.
The other thing is that I believe that life elsewhere in the
Universe will only rarely be anything like vertebrates here,
but when it is, the serpentine form is relatively common
because there are very many vermiform phyla on Earth and
snakes are wormy, a simple shape, which incidentally also
means there very probably are tribbles, so we can all be
very happy about that.
Now, consider a terrestrial vertebrate. It has a head,
neck, torso and tail, and in the case of this place usually
also limbs. The bits which can make such an animal like a
snake are its neck, torso and tail, and each of these can be
short or long.
Therefore I posit the following cosmic snake classification
system. There are eight types of snake, one of which isn't
really a snake at all, which can be represented by a three-
bit binary number. Each bit is set for a long section,
cleared for a short one. It goes as follows:
Type zero: this is basically a tribble. It has short to no
neck, short to no tail and a small torso. It looks like a
zero in shape too.
Type one: Long neck, short body and tail, possibly no tail.
This is an animal which is all neck, with a head and a tiny
body at the base of the neck.
Type two: Long torso, short neck and tail. This is a snake
as we know it, I think, although snakes might have long
Type three: Short tail, long torso and neck.
Type four: short neck and torso, long tail. This animal
poos disturbingly close to its mouth. It's also quite tough
because it can be injured along most of its length without
being killed, and if it's anything like a lizard can also
regenerate most of its body (but better than a lizard can).
Type five: long neck and tail, short torso. More or less
what I thought a snake was when I was a child. A bit like
a Loch Ness Monster or a sauropod but without limbs.
Type six: Short neck, long torso and tail. I think this is
probably an eel or a lamprey but I'm not sure. They exist
on our planet but are usually aquatic.
Type seven: Long everything. This is like a sinuous long
pliosaur or sauropod without limbs. It's the apotheosis of
serpents and deeply groovy, but rather vulnerable to
strangulation, so maybe it should be aquatic and either
breathe through its gills or skin, or maybe cloaca.
There you go. I don't really know why I decided to lay that
on you but it pleases me. I may be alone in that.
If you really must .....
[not_morrison_rm, Feb 11 2017]
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||Ah, but your entire notion revolves around quadrupedia (the anatomy, not the movie). Quadrupedia defines the neck and tail in relation to the upper and lower limb girdles, and the torso as the bit in between. Quadrupedia, in turn, traces its origins back to fish with pectoral and pelvic fins.
||It's quite possible that, elsewhere in the universe, the earliest animals with internal skeletons happened to have six or more proto-limbs. If so, they might well have defined the local vertebrate body plan. In that case, there might (for instance) be flying animals with two pairs of walking/grasping limbs and a pair of wings, and so forth.
||A six-limbed vertebrate (assuming a 2+2+2 arrangement) would have a neck, two thoraces, and a tail. So you'd have to extend your system to be four bits long.
||Yes, something like that's in a book I wrote in fact but this is simpler.
||I don't want to use this place to sell things.
||Fair enough. I promise not to buy it. Link?
||So we're type 2 snakes, then.
||Speak for yourself, [FT].
||It's called 'Here Be Dragons' unfortunately, which it turns out is a very
popular title. It's the one with a leafy sea dragon on the cover. You can
find it on Amazon under my current name.
||About the promising not to buy it.
||Aha...I myself have a book on Amazon, but I don't want to sell stuff on here...
||(realises it's not going to work..)
||It isn't, and so do I. But, out of curiosity....?
||I would like to go on record as saying that I have written no book but would probably flog the crap out of it on here had I done so.
||(+) I've often wondered, if panspermia gets proven out, then does it stand that the original emergent life form of a planet, be it four-limbed, six-limbed, eight-limbed etc. would remain the dominant life form mold for that planet over exo-seeded life forms?
As in; there has never been an Arachnasaurus Rex... at least not on this planet.
||//But, out of curiosity....
||Anyway, I just emailed you the pdf ver, I'm too idle to bill you..
||I temporarily took the one with the Savile reference off to remove the
reference and never re-uploaded it. I seem to remember something
else turned out to be nasty in hindsight too but can't remember what.
||Do binary half-adders play a role in this evolution drama?
||Oh, I like that! I want to make it work somehow.