Snake leg loss genetics reported in ScienceDaily 6 February 2019 and Nature Communications 9 Nov 2018, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-07122-z.

An international team of scientists have been searching for genetic changes involved in loss of limbs in snakes. They suggested the differences may be in stretches of DNA known as cis-regulatory elements (CREs). These are not genes for specific characteristics, but control the expression of genes, i.e. when and where genes are activated and deactivated.  One of the ways they do this is to provide binding sites for transcription factors, molecules that are needed for the process of reading DNA information.

CREs are not as easy to find as genes so the researchers looked for them by comparing genomes of various vertebrates, some with limbs and some without limbs. They compared the genomes of 29 vertebrates including two snakes, three lizards, a gecko, three birds, an alligator, three turtles, 14 mammals, a frog, and a coelacanth. Their study revealed “an extensive loss of transcription factor binding sites”.  They concluded that “genome-wide decay of the phenotype-specific cis-regulatory landscape is a hallmark of lost morphological traits”.


Editorial Comment:  This extensive genome study is one of a number of studies that reveal how a four -legged reptile with a short body can change into a reptile with no legs and a long body, and none of the changes involve evolution.  All of them affirm that the change in genetics involves loss of function, which is the opposite evolution.  (For previous gene studies see our report: Snake Leg Loss Genes here.)

The people who did this study would quite likely scoff at the Genesis 3 narrative, where God condemns a creature described as “the serpent” to crawl on its belly as punishment for its involvement in the temptation of Eve. (Genesis 3:14)  But here is a challenge to Christians and sceptics alike to think a little more deeply about what happened.  The Genesis 3 narrative only makes sense if the serpent in the Garden of Eden was a creature with legs, not a present-day snake with no legs.  After all, if the serpent was already crawling on it belly God’s judgement would make no difference to it.  The idea that the serpent was originally a legged creature is confirmed in Revelation 20:2 which identifies the dragon of Revelation as “that ancient serpent”.  Dragons are creatures with legs, so also note that dinosaurs were originally referred to as dragons by the people who originally studied them, and still are by the Chinese.

Altogether, the Biblical narrative and this genome study affirm that the snakes we see in the world today are the result of degeneration, not evolution. Once again, we have to remind biologists and Bible scholars alike: change in living creatures is real, but it is not evolution.

There are fossil snakes with remnants of legs, and one group of scientists actually named their fossil “Najash rionegrina” which they claim is “from Hebrew ‘Najash’ the legged biblical snake”. There are also living snakes with tiny vestigial legs. See our report Fossil Snake Hips here.

For further information see the questions:

SNAKE LEGS: Did snakes really lose their legs, as Genesis implies? Answer here.

SNAKES: If God removed snakes’ legs at the Fall, why are there fossil snakes with legs? Answer here.

Evidence News vol.19 No. 2
20 February 2019
Creation Research Australia

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