1st gene edited snakes

Continuing the discussion from If you could invent a morph (be it color, pattern, or both) what would it be?:

The first gene edited snakes were recently reported: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.adf8834

A naturally occurring candidate mutation for the scaleless morph in corn snakes was identified in the EDARADD gene. The research team used CRISPR-based gene editing to create new mutations in EDARADD to knockout the gene’s function and confirm its role in scale formation. The same basic gene editing approach (injection CRISPR reagents into developing oocytes) also works in geckos and anoles. No reason to think that it wouldn’t work in pythons.


It’s an ethics question. Can we? Sure. Should we? Probably not. The study was justified in modifying animals to examine the process of scale formation in reptiles, which has analogs in mammalian and bird models. It was an important experiment to further scientific knowledge. Creating a cool new pet isn’t ethically justified. Even glow fish were created for a purpose even if they’re widely available now as pets. Additionally, university research is governed by Animal Care and Use Committees, which are beholden to two federal laws: The Animal Welfare Act written by Congress and the Public Health Service Policy mandated by the National Institute of Health. Modifying animals for purely selfish reasons would never be approved.


Just because a technology is available, that doesn’t mean it should be used for any purpose. But I do think the community should be aware of these technologies and discuss them openly.

1 Like

Technology is fine. A.I. is fine. Everything is fine.