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It is not understood how the numbers and identities of vertebrae are controlled during mammalian development. The remarkable robustness and conservation of segmental numbers may suggest a digital nature of the underlying process. Here I propose a mechanism that allows cells to obtain and store the segmental information in digital form, and to produce a pattern of chromatin accessibility that in turn regulates Hox gene expression specific to the metameric segment. The model requires that adoi:10.20944/preprints201908.0087.v1 fatcat:4qwuwkepq5dn3bsl4kwnz343wy