The snake's primordial system, functioning for well over one hundred million years, is a marvel of genetic engineering. The snake smells with its tongue, hears with its flesh, and propels itself by a locomotion of rippling muscles. It sheds its skin, has a detachable tail, and mimics death if afraid. It copulates for days with one snake or fifty at once, and can even clone itself. With all these qualities it is easy to see why no other creature has inspired such contradictory emotions or diverse..