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Nature & Environment

How did snakes lose their legs ?

By T.K. Randall
February 9, 2011 · Comment icon 19 comments

Image Credit: Marek Szczepanek
New research has strengthened the view that snakes evolved from lizards whose legs became redundant.
"If something is not useful it can regress without any impact on the (animal's) survival, or regression can even be positive, as for here if the leg was disturbing a kind of locomotion, like for burrowing snakes or swimming snakes," says author Alexandra Houssaye.
Some, if not all, snakes used to have legs, and now new research suggests snakes lost their limbs by growing them more slowly or for a shorter period of time.


Source: Discovery News | Comments (19)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by danielost 14 years ago
Interesting hypothesis. Does any proof exist to back this up? there is proof that it didnt happen this way. i give you the mole, and the mole rat for two. oh and there is an amphibian that is legless too dont know what it is called.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Evilution13 14 years ago
Give the mole and the mole rat another million years and they'll be slithering around like there's no tomorrow. As for the amphibian, just wait and he'll have nice pair of fins sticking out the sides
Comment icon #12 Posted by BaneSilvermoon 14 years ago
The Caecilians are also legless and burrowers, though they are amphibians instead of reptiles. Early Caecillians had legs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eocaecilia
Comment icon #13 Posted by Silus 14 years ago
The main problem I have accepting this is that it would have been massively simpler to evolve a better way of taking something elses burrow, or dig with their claws like the star nosed mole and others. Losing your legs would take so long it isn't feasible to me without some outside force influencing the outcome.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Drayno 14 years ago
Early Caecillians had legs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eocaecilia Very good link. I believe that Snakes had legs. Don't call me a conspiracy theorist.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Emma_Acid 14 years ago
there is proof that it didnt happen this way. i give you the mole, and the mole rat for two. A species could not have evolved a certain way because a completely different species evolved differently? I know you're not hot on evolution Dan, but that's nonsense even for you.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Mistydawn 14 years ago
In large constrictors you can actually see the small remnants of a foot or claw. Many believe this to be what was once legs or feet. Some think the spurs are for mating purposes but I don't see what for as not all snakes have this left over "foot" I think snakes are the remnants of bad people who as punishment for their badness are made pets of even badder persons , re-born into a creepy crawly life of frustration; born into a pet-shop environment, handed over to people with names like "Thong," made to live their crawly lives out at the mercy of strange folk.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Evilution13 14 years ago
I believe animals are more at peace with themselves than humans. But like people, snakes are just part of he natural world.
Comment icon #18 Posted by ali smack 14 years ago
sounds very interesting
Comment icon #19 Posted by V1P3R 13 years ago
Very interesting read, but..... Ewwwww..... with or without legs,. i still ain't a fan of snakes


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