DR MORLEY READ / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR MORLEY READ / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Snake scales. Close-up of scales on the body of an anaconda (Eunectes sp.). The anaconda, the world's heaviest snake and among the longest, is found in South America. The scales of a snake protect it as it moves along the ground or among the trees. The scales vary in size, with larger flat scales on the underside to help gain traction for movement. The scales do not grow, so as the snake grows it sheds its skin to reveal a layer of new, larger scales. An important function of the scales is to prevent loss of body moisture. The scales are dry, and consist of hardened skin folds, containing the protein keratin. Coloration of the scales can help to camouflage a snake.
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