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Study reveals how snakes lost their legs

Before snakes slithered on the ground, they used to roam the Earth on legs about 150 million years ago.

But how did they lose their legs?

>> Read more trending stories 

Scientists from the University of Florida discovered that the genetic process for leg development has "simply switched off" in these reptiles, NPR reports.

The DNA to develop limbs, called the "Sonic hedgehog genome," was discovered in python embryos less than 24 hours old, but shortly fizzled out.

Co-author of the study, Martin Cohn, told NPR that the reason for this genome to switch off is because it does not have 'enhancers' , or DNA sequences, to properly create limbs in a snake embryo. 

Several of these enhancers in the Sonic hedgehog genome were deleted at some point during the snake's evolution and caused a mutation, according to Cohn. 

But further in the study, Cohn discovered that another gene which makes fingers and toes was active in a python embryo---only that the embryos made a "pre-cartilaginous model of all skeletal elements of the limb," Cohn said to NPD. 

"It was absolutely mind-blowing because this was like development of a cryptic leg skeleton in an embryo," Cohn said to NPR. 

This finding could be the answer to how snakes evolved to lose their legs. 

"There are a number of fossil snakes with legs. Paleontologists have argued that some of these ancient snakes retained the legs of their ancestors, whereas others species evolved after legs were lost, and, thus, they may have reacquired legs." Cohn said to NPR. 

Read full story at 

Dad prepares for months to step out of his wheelchair for this moment

A father didn’t let his multiple sclerosis diagnosis stop him from walking his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.

Scott Holland, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was diagnosed with MS more than two decades ago. He never let his diagnosis stop him from doing what he loved.

>> Read more trending stories 

About a decade ago, MS forced him into a wheelchair. Even still, he coached his daughter’s softball team and taught third grade.

His daughter, Elise, had her wedding date set, and Holland did what he needed to do to make sure he could walk her down the aisle. For months, he went to physical therapy to learn how to walk again, thanks to a new technology called an exoskeleton.

“You forget how to walk. Now, I have to stop and think about it,” he told WPVI.

On the big day, he surprised his family with by walking Elise down the aisle. She said she has always admired her dad’s strength.

“I think he’s taught us a lot about adaptability in our life,” Elise said.

A family in Philadelphia will always remember this moment - the day the bride's father walked her down the aisle after...Posted by UCP of Philadelphia on Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Typo on a teleprompter led to a hilarious news blooper

“Say hi to the internet!” advised one anchor, as another delivered a classic news blooper.

>> Read more trending stories 

Richmond, Va., news anchor Eric Phillips was reading off of a teleprompter when a misspelled word caused a pretty funny flub on air.

“Check your panties,” began Phillips, as he looked a bit confused, but kept delivering a story about rice cookers. “I think that’s supposed to be pantries.”

“I couldn’t warn you before I saw it, and I couldn’t warn you, Eric,” said his co-host between hearty laughs.

Phillips took the typo like a pro and delivered the rest of the story while the rest of the studio giggled and laughed at Phillips’ delivery, even going so far as to walk onscreen to tell Phillips to say hi to the internet, predicting the flub would go viral.

The flub was so funny that Phillips had to deliver the rest of a story for his co-host as she tried to get it together and failed, still giggling over Phillips’ goof.

Mom: Son's suicide in jail could have been prevented

The city of Doraville, Georgia has agreed to pay a mother $2 million after her son hanged himself using a blanket inside the city's jail.

Records show jailers failed to give him his antidepressant medicine and then didn't check on him for several hours. City policy mandates employees check on inmates every 20 minutes.

>> Read more trending stories 

"It makes me very angry, very, very angry, and so sad," Debra Robton said.

Robton has never watched the video that shows her son, Yoel Robton, looking anxious and desperate.

He repeatedly paced his jail cell, climbing up to look out the window several times.

"I know he wouldn't have done this unless he was below the barrel. He had to be so low and feeling so hopeless," said Debra Robton.

She had seen the darkness when her son was off his meds once before. That's why the family took his prescription to jailers following his arrest on a warrant, after a fender bender.

"You have to provide them their medication. You need to be checking on them. These are basic things that need to be done," said Jed Manton, Yoel Robton's attorney.

An internal investigation following Yoel Robton's death found city employees violated their own policies.

There are supposed to be mandatory checks three times an hour. During the investigation, employees indicated that due to staffing shortages, those were often done by glancing at video monitors instead of in person.  

Debra Robton says if they'd been done properly, a jailer might have noticed what her son was doing and prevented his death.

When Yoel Robton first tied his blanket around his bedpost at noon, no one noticed.

He slipped it over his head, several times.

At one point, he even sat down on the floor to test it out.

Around 5 p.m., a jailer delivered Yoel Robton's dinner and didn't notice the noose hanging in the cell.

Just after 8:30 p.m., Yoel Robton placed the blanket around his neck for the last time.

It took jailers 18 minutes to respond.

"It did not have to happen. It should not have happened," said Debra Robton. "He was just a very loving, loving kind soul."

Yoel Robton died at the hospital a few days later.

Manton says it took the city of Doraville nearly two years to release all of the details from its investigation, and settled the case shortly thereafter.

The city's insurance will pay the $2 million settlement.

"It wasn't about a lawsuit. It wasn't about money. It was about can you tell me what happened," said Manton.

In October 2014, the city recommended changing the blankets to brighter, more noticeable colors, cutting off the top bunk beds, and better staffing the jail to allow for more inmate checks.

"They knew that within months of this happening," said Manton, "So the delay of dragging it out for this much time, unnecessarily putting this family through the additional grief, it's a shame."

The Doraville police chief, mayor and city manager declined requests for an on-camera interview, but issued a statement saying they are still deeply saddened about what happened.

They have not yet provided records showing whether any employees were disciplined.

The jail has removed the top bunks from the beds and purchased a new kind of blanket that cannot be torn or tied into a knot.

Debra Robton is glad there have been changes, but knows nothing will bring back her son.

“I just wish he were here, just one more hug," she said.

Gun accidents kill at least 1 child every other day, report says

A joint investigation by The Associated Press and USA Today revealed that gun accidents kill at least one child in the U.S. every other day on average. 

>> Read more trending stories  

 The report, published Friday, found that in the first six months of this year, children 17 years old and younger died from accidental shootings "far more than ... federal statistics indicate."

"The only government data that's available comes from the CDC, and we found that that data is very incomplete," Ryan Foley, a member of the AP's national reporting team, told PBS' Hari Sreenivasan in an interview. "And the CDC admits that it is undercounting these because many local coroners classify these shootings as homicides other than unintentional or accidental."

The investigation analyzed more than 1,000 deaths and injuries from accidental shootings involving minors between January 2014 and June 2016. During that time, more than 320 minors were killed in accidental shootings involving minors. Nearly 700 other children were injured.

Foley said that the investigation collected data from the Gun Violence Archive, a national group that "tries to track every single gun incident in the United States."

The report stated that Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia are among the states with the highest per capita rates of accidental shootings involving minors and that most accidental shootings occur in homes where handguns are legally owned by adults for self-protection. 

"In many cases, they're able to access their parents' unsecured loaded guns," Foley told Sreenivasan. "And they also pointed them back at their own faces, we found, and shot themselves by accident."

The findings also showed a spike in the number of shootings that resulted in death or injury involving 3-year-olds -- "the vast majority of which were self-inflicted."

Another spike was noted for teens aged 15-17.

"Those usually involve groups of teenagers who manage to obtain a gun and it accidentally goes off and kills a sibling or a friend," Foley said.

Read more at USA Today.

Milwaukee police officer charged with sexual assault 2 months after killing armed man

A Milwaukee police officer who shot and killed an armed man in August has been suspended from duty after being charged with sexual assault in an unrelated case.

>> Read more trending stories

The Milwaukee Police Department confirmed Thursday that Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, 24, was charged after a man claimed that Haeggan-Brown sexually assaulted him on Aug. 14, a day after Heaggan-Brown shot and killed 23-year-old Sylville Smith.

Smith was shot and killed after fleeing a traffic stop while he was armed with a handgun, according to authorities. Police said body camera footage showed Smith pointing the gun toward Heaggan-Brown before the officer opened fire.

Authorities have not said whether Heaggan-Brown is expected to face charges in the shooting.

The killing sparked three days of violent protests.

>> Related: Violence erupts after officer-involved shooting in Milwaukee

According to a criminal complaint obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the victim met Heaggan-Brown on Facebook in July while looking for someone to help with his music. Heaggan-Brown is an amateur rapper.

Heaggan-Brown invited him to meet on Aug. 14 and the man agreed, according to the complaint. They went to a bar, where they got drinks and Heaggan-Brown settled in to watch TV coverage of the unrest caused by Smith's death.

While watching, he "bragged about being able to do whatever (he) wanted without repercussions," according to the complaint.

The victim told police that he doesn't drink often and that by the time he left the bar, his memory was spotty. However, he told authorities that he awakened to find Heaggan-Brown raping him and felt as though he might have been drugged.

>> Related: Milwaukee to enforce 10 p.m. curfew after 2 nights of protests

Heaggan-Brown took the man to the hospital and told police it was because the man was acting "weird and unresponsive" after their trip to the bar.

"Hospital staff noted the man was crying and looked extremely traumatized as he recounted what happened," the Journal-Sentinel reported.

Hours later, Heaggan-Brown sent a text message to Sgt. Joseph Hall, a fellow officer whom Heaggan-Brown saw as a mentor, the newspaper reported.

"Need your help big time," he wrote. "(Expletive) up big time… But need to handle this the most secret and right way possible."

>> Related: Here's why police don't shoot to wound in the case of deadly force

Heaggan-Brown told Hall that he had consensual sex with the man, "but admitted the man was drunk and had 'medical issues,'" the Journal-Sentinel reported.

Prosecutors charged him with two counts each of second-degree sexual assault and prostitution. He also faces one count of possessing or distributing a recording of nudity without consent.

Milwaukee police have opened an internal investigation into the allegations. 

'Lucky' pennies worth $1,000 are strewn across 10 major cities

If you're one of those people who pick up "lucky" pennies on the street, you might get even luckier soon.

>> Read more trending stories  

Across the U.S., there are fake pennies on sidewalks and other areas worth $1,000, thanks to a recent promotion by Ally Bank.

The bank placed 100 "lucky pennies" in 10 cities around the country in an effort to "demonstrate the importance of valuing every cent" and encourage people to save money.


The pennies are easy to identify because they're marked with Ally Bank's logo, and the flip side of the coins list the value at 100,000 cents. Plus, they're slightly larger in size than regular pennies.

According to the bank, the pennies are placed in plain sight in public places. Participating markets include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Miami, Denver, Detroit, San Diego, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Austin, Texas.

The company, which said there are 10 pennies in each of the select cities, has been posting hints about the penny locations on social media.

The coins can be redeemed online until the end of the year.

Read more at Ally.

Supporters, 'nasty' women flock to social media after Trump insults Clinton

Supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton flooded social media Wednesday night after rival Donald Trump called her a "nasty woman" during a presidential debate.

>> Read more trending stories

Clinton was answering a question about Social Security Trump interrupted her when in the last few minutes of the debate.

>> Related: 5 memorable moments from the third presidential debate

"My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald's, assuming he can't figure out how to get out of it," Clinton said, referring to a New York Times report that claimed Trump that could have legally gotten out of paying federal income taxes for nearly two decades based on a leaked 1995 return.

"But what we want to do is to replenish the Social Security Trust Fund," she continued, as Trump fired back, "Such a nasty woman."

>> Related: Worst line of the debate, according to this set of viewers

The response on social media was swift and skewed heavily in Clinton's favor.

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe> <script src="//;border=false"></script> [View the story "'Nasty' women flock to social media after Trump insults Clinton" on Storify]

Watch: Star Lord and co. are back in first 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' trailer

Star Lord and company are back in the first teaser for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2."

>> Read more trending stories

The highly anticipated sequel to director James Gunn’s 2014 hit "Guardians of the Galaxy" will come out in May 2017.

>> Related: 'Logan' trailer released

The first sneak peek at the Marvel fan favorite is only a minute-and-a half, but fans will want to watch it to the very end for the biggest reveal.

<iframe width="390" height="219" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The trailer held few plot details but social media users have taken it upon themselves to speculate and share excitement about the upcoming film. 

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