Snake ancestors had tiny legs

Both adorable and hilarious. And weird.

Scientists from Yale University, USA have, by analysing fossils genes and anatomy of various extant and extinct lizard and snake varieties, reported that snakes first evolved on land, not the sea. Little has been known about where snakes came from, and what there ancestors looked like and this study has gone a long way to start answering these questions. The researchers say that snakes evolved during a period of time when lots of new birds and mammals were also evolving, during the middle Early Cretaceous period (around 128.5 million years ago), on the ancient supercontinent of Laurasia (which later became North America and Eurasia).

They have also deduced that the ancestors of the modern snake would have had tiny adorable hind limbs and would have eaten small animals (not having evolved into the efficient killing machines we know today: see Boa Constrictor). Snakes were able to survive and flourish due to their ability to travel large distances and inhabit lots of different habitats, such as aquatic environments.

Image credit: Julius Csotonyi

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