Snake leg loss described in articles in ScienceShots and ScienceDaily 7 February 2011, ABC News in Science and BBC News, 8 Feb 2011, and Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology vol. 31 p2, January 2011.
No living snakes have legs but three fossil snakes have been found with tiny back legs. A group of French and German scientists have used a high tech x-ray scanner to study the internal structure of the limbs of a fossil snake named Eupodophis descouensi. The x-ray images revealed the miniscule snake limbs were similar in structure to lizard legs. However the legs had thinner walls and were not as dense as the other bones in the snake.
The researchers described the bones as “regressed” and made two suggestions for how this occurred: the limbs had a slower growth rate than the snake’s other bones; or they did not grow for as long a time.
The fossil was found in Lebanon in Cretaceous rocks dated at 95 million years old.
Editorial Comment: One of the other fossil snakes found with legs is Najash rionegrina. The scientists who gave it this name stated it was named after the serpent in Genesis 3 – “from the Hebrew ‘Najash’ for the legged biblical snake”. (Nature, vol. 440, p1037)
Some living boas and pythons have small spurs projecting from their pelvic regions that are used in mating. Given the increasing evidence of snake leg loss, the spurs are most probably truly vestigial organs that still retain a modicum of function.
As for the latest leg bearing fossil snake, we accept the research team’s suggestions as reasonable, and that the limb bones were not responding to normal growth stimulating hormones as the snake’s other bones were. However, there is no evidence this creature was ever anything else but a snake. The rest of the fossil shows it was a very snakey snake that “went on its belly”, just as Genesis 3:14 says.
Whatever caused the leg shrinkage and subsequent loss in present day legless snakes – it was a result of degeneration downwards, not evolution upwards.
Evidence News, 16 February 2011
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