Fully developed snake feet have been found on the oldest snake fossil, a discovery which is said to have been “unexpected” and “stunning” to scientists. But some creationists are already taking those snake legs and running with them, saying the discovery proves the Bible’s claim about snakes in the Garden of Eden.
In a related report by the Inquisitr, the oldest snake fossil is officially named the Tetrapodophis amplectus. The oldest snake fossil is estimated to be about 110 million years old, and it has four little limbs including feet and toes.
“The hands and feet are very specialized for grasping. So when snakes stopped walking and started slithering, the legs didn’t just become useless little vestiges — they started using them for something else. We’re not entirely sure what that would be, but they may have been used for grasping prey, or perhaps mates.”
The controversy over the snake’s feet has some questioning whether the discovery from Brazil is, in fact, a snake.
“I honestly do not think so,” says Michael Caldwell of the University of Alberta, according to National Geographic. “I think the specimen is important, but I do not know what it is. I might be wrong, but that will require me to see the specimen first hand.”
Others feel it is pretty obvious that Tetrapodophis amplectus is a snake.
“Looks like a snake to me,” says Jacques Gauthier of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University. “The long body and reduced limbs, along with the bony supports in the pelvis for lymph hearts to pump blood back to the heart, are consistent with being a snake.”
Susan Evans studies reptile evolution for the University College London, and she is on the fence since “[o]pinions on snake evolution are highly polarized.”
The odd part about the oldest snake fossil is how it appears in the fossil record next to samples like Eophis, Parviraptor, and Diablophis, which all had two legs, not four. The two competing mainstream theories claim that snakes came from water-dwelling sea reptiles like the mosasaurs (remember the underwater predator in Jurassic World?), while other scientists say snake legs came from terrestrial burrowing monitor lizards.
The latter theory is now being given more weight, since the oldest snake fossil seems to give legs to the idea that snakes were land-based from the start. In addition, some are already saying that both snakes and mosasaurs independently evolved from a land-based ancestor, which would have that fearsome creature from Jurassic World crawling onto land only to decide it’s less scary back in the water.
While these competing evolutionary theories make for a confusing picture, creationists claim it proves the Bible’s description in Genesis 3:14.
“The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.’ “
Before the discovery of the oldest snake fossil was announced, Creation Ministries International made a prediction, writing that they would not be surprised if snake legs were discovered to be common.
“[I]t would not be that remarkable if one or more living types of snake were shown to once have possessed legs for walking. There exist several living families of lizards in which legs are small or absent. The loss of legs (gradually or quickly) in lizards or snakes would no more pose a challenge to biblical biology than would the loss of functional wings in flightless insects and flightless birds, or of eyes in blind cave fish. In fact, it is quite possible that morphological change in one kind of snake occurred as part of the Divine Curse (Genesis 3:14), while others were created entirely legless from the start.”
After the announcement of the oldest snake fossil, some creationists claimed the snake feet call into question Darwin and evolution.
“For decades skeptics questioned the biblical account. But when it comes to the snake, the only evolution is the evolving view of the evolutionists. Now no one can deny the biblical account: snakes had legs. According to them, the legs ‘disappeared’ as a result of ‘natural selection’ while the Bible says these legs disappeared because God cursed this creature for being possessed by satan when he deceived Eve. To say that snakes had legs is like saying that cows had wings. Had the Bible said that cows had wings, skeptics would have been laughing at believers for millenniums until of course, we find a fossilized cow with wings. The chances of this happening is nil. The question that begs an answer is how did Moses and Joshua (who are believed to have written Genesis) knew that snakes had legs?”
What do you think about the oldest snake fossil?
[Image via Julius Cstonyi]