Fossil of a four-legged snake found in Brazil

2015-07-24 15:28

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Miami - A fossil of a four-legged snake uncovered in Brazil has shed new light on the origins of snakes as land burrowers, not sea creatures, a study said on Thursday.

This ancestor of modern day snakes is the first of its kind and was found in Brazil's Crato Formation.

"The newly discovered species Tetrapodophis amplectus, which lived during the Early Cretaceous 146 to 100 million years ago, maintains many classic snake features, such as a short snout, long braincase, elongated body, scales, fanged teeth and a flexible jaw to swallow large prey," said the study, led by British and German scientists.

These ancient reptiles had the same flexibility as modern snakes so they could constrict their prey, but they had limbs each with five well-defined digits.

"The main, glaring difference is Tetrapodophis's four limbs, which do not appear to have been used for locomotion. Rather, the shorter exterior digits and lengthened second digit suggest that the limbs were used for grasping, the authors say, either to seize prey or to clasp during mating."

Its lack of a long, flattened tail also distinguished it from aquatic animals, "further suggesting that snakes did not evolve from marine ancestors", according to the findings in the journal Science.

"This intriguing fossil hints at how snakes eventually slithered their way into the modern world."

Read more on:    brazil  |  conservation  |  animals
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.