Did You Know Ancient Snakes Did Have Legs But They Were Not For Walking
Research done on snake species of earlier times has suggested that these evolved in water and not on land as was being thought until long. This perception grew strong after fossilized remains of 110-million-year old snake were found.
Scientists were never sure of the origin of snake but the discovery of this fossil in Brazil gave strength to the terrestrial origin theory of snakes. This study was led by group of scientists headed by Nicholas R. Longrich who argued that Tetrapdophis amplectus was indeed a terrestrial animal. However, this theory was challenged by a report published in Cretaceous Research where the authors argued that Tetrapdophis amplectus was more of an aquatic lizard and that these evolved their long bodies so that they could swim like eel. Besides its limbs which were paddle like, the snake which belonged to Cretaceous era had a head and body which was similar to that of a modern snake. It also had a short tail which led the researchers to believe that this creature could head inwards into the ground.
All these assumptions have been sidelined in the research done by Robert Reisz and his colleagues. The study which they did at University of Toronto at Mississauga has been interpreted in a different way. The limbs in this research have been thought to be short and paddle shaped which have been found to be suitable for steering and swimming. However, the amazing feature that Robert Reisz and his colleagues found out was that the animal had a long slender tail and four slender legs which is nowhere seen in lizards and burrowing snakes today. The limb bones too appear to be weak and ossified poorly. These two traits according to Robert Reisz are characteristic of mosasaurs which was an ancient lizard.The little legs were highly specialized owing to its shape and not due to small size of this animal. Further elaborating on his research Robert Reisz pointed out that a group of ancient snake like amphibians went back to waters. This happened a few million years after vertebrates had ventured for the first time on land. However, as to why did this animal abandoned their aquatic life in favor of a limbless life is still to be worked out. Interestingly, this research has been carried out on only available fossil of Tetrapdophis amplectus. This fossil was found in Brazil in Crato formation. However, scientists still need some credible evidence and more specimens to say it with certainty as to from where these creatures evolved from.