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Palaeontology

Scientists solve how snakes lost their legs

By T.K. Randall
November 28, 2015 · Comment icon 11 comments



Snakes were not always completely limbless. Image Credit: PD - Whkoh
Researchers have revealed that snakes lost their limbs when they began living and hunting in burrows.
The findings were based on new CT scans of Dinilysia patagonica - a relative of modern snakes which lived around 90 million years ago and grew up to two meters in length.

By comparing its interior canals and cavities with those of several modern species, the scientists were able to determine that burrowing animals exhibited a distinct inner ear structure that was different to that of animals which did not burrow at all.
By analyzing the fossils it became possible to find a correlation between the time at which snakes lost their limbs and the time at which they started to live and hunt in burrows.

"How snakes lost their legs has long been a mystery to scientists, but it seems that this happened when their ancestors became adept at burrowing," said lead scientist Dr Hongyu Yi.

"The inner ears of fossils can reveal a remarkable amount of information, and are very useful when the exterior of fossils are too damaged or fragile to examine."

Source: Irish Examiner | Comments (11)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Athena1979 7 years ago
Well, I hope they find them soon!
Comment icon #3 Posted by Sir Wearer of Hats 7 years ago
Did they lose a poker game against the spiders?
Comment icon #4 Posted by bubblykiss 7 years ago
Did they lose a poker game against the spiders? Close they got tired of the lizard mafia knee capping them for old debts.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 7 years ago
Comment icon #6 Posted by TheGreatBeliever 7 years ago
How can that be. There r so much more pros than cons in having limbs..
Comment icon #7 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
I'm not so sure I agree with the scientist's proposal. Wouldn't it be so much more advantageous to have "digging limbs"? To be sure, and often seen in Nature. I just don't agree with their suggestions on this.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Sir Wearer of Hats 7 years ago
Maybe they're the hipster of the animal world - Limbs? They're so mainstream.
Comment icon #9 Posted by ROGER 7 years ago
How can that be. There r so much more pros than cons in having limbs.. You know your right . Obviosly it didn't happen .
Comment icon #10 Posted by davros of skaro 7 years ago
It was a curse from God so that they always taste the dust of the Earth.
Comment icon #11 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
Interesting theory, but it doesn't jive well with what we know of evolution. Unless the climate was more of the driving factor here.


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