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Old 02-15-2011, 10:26 AM   #1
The Bug Whisperer
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Monroe County, WV, USA
Default How Snakes Got Legless

BBC News - Studying how snakes got legless

“A 95-million-year-old fossil is helping scientists understand how snakes lost their legs through evolutionary time. Found in Lebanon, the specimen is one of only three examples of an ancient snake with preserved leg bones. One rear leg is clearly visible but researchers had to use a novel X-ray technique to examine another leg hidden inside the fossil rock. Writing in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the team says the snake records an early stage in limb loss.

Current evidence suggests that snakes started to evolve less than 150 million years ago.

Two theories compete. One points to a land origin in which lizards started to burrow, and as they adapted to their subterranean existence, their legs were reduced and lost - first the fore-limbs and then the hind-limbs. The second theory considers the origin to be in water, from marine reptiles.
This makes the few known bipedal snakes in the fossil record hugely significant, because they could hold the clues that settle this particular debate.”
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