4-legged Snake Gets Creationists All Shook Up

4-legged snakeSnakes are reptiles, which means they descended from reptile ancestors. Ancient reptiles descended from even more ancient amphibians, which descended from lobe-finned fish between 350 and 400 million years ago. These fish had thick, muscular fins corresponding to the legs of a modern quadruped. Each of the four fins had a single bone attached to the body of the fish. At the end of that bone was a joint with two bones attached. At the end of the two bones was a group of smaller bones corresponding roughly to our hands and fingers. Or feet and toes.

As the fish evolved into amphibians, the fins morphed into legs with 5-toed feet on the ends. When some of them evolved into reptiles and eventually into mammals and birds, the pattern remained substantially the same. They all had four legs consisting of one bone attached by a joint to two bones, with feet and five toes on the ends of each.

These animals are known collectively as quadrupeds, because they all have (or have had) four feet. The only exceptions are creatures like birds, which have transformed their front legs into wings; whales, dugongs, and seals, which turned their legs into flippers; primates, which have changed their front legs into arms; snakes and certain rare tropical amphibians that have lost their legs completely.

Since snakes descended from those ancient reptiles, they obviously descended from creatures with four legs. This has been known since Darwin’s time.

8-inch 4-legged snake fossil

4-legged snake fossilNow a single specimen of a 4-legged snake has been found in a museum, and creationists are already claiming this provides support for their belief the Bible is the word of God. After all, Genesis says God cursed the serpent that it would henceforth crawl on its belly. The claim is that the snake had four legs and lost them because of God’s curse.

I didn’t even intend to write about this, because we don’t know where the fossil was found, or when, or by whom. It was in a private collection for an undetermined length of time and then transferred to the museum, where it was labeled “Unidentified Fossil Vertebrate.” It is thought to have been originally found somewhere in Brazil.

But somebody needs to counter these creationist claims. Also, the fossil really is a spectacular find!

Conservative Tribune’s headline makes the claim:

“New Fossil Discovery Provides Massive PROOF of Bible’s Story of Adam and Eve.”

They continue:

Adam and Eve may have been the first humans to sin, but it was the snake in the garden who lied and enticed them to do so.

The story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden is ancient. While many Christians and creationists have long held the story to be true, many people have regarding (sic) the account in Genesis as nothing more than a myth.

That all could change now that a new fossil has been discovered that lends support to the existence of the biblical Adam and Eve.

No. Sorry. It won’t change.

A fossil from Brazil which has been hidden in a private collection for decades has now been determined by scientists to show a snake with four legs that it presumably used to walk on instead of slither on its belly.

Again, no. You didn’t read the report right. Those legs are too tiny and too far apart for walking. The snake would already be dragging its belly and wouldn’t need to be cursed. It probably used them to hold its prey (as shown in the artist’s conception above) and maybe to hold its mate.

That is significant when you read the account in Genesis 3:14 where God cursed the snake by taking away his ability to walk, causing it forever after to have to “crawl on his belly.”

See above.

While evolutionists claim that snakes came from marine lizards, the new discovery debunks that theory. Trying to make the fact hit their theory, they now have said that snakes may have ‘evolved’ from terrestrial lizards, meaning that they have always been land animals and evolved to lose their legs.

There have long been two hypotheses of the origin of snakes. Some biologists thought they descended from marine reptiles; others thought they descended from terrestrial reptiles. There are now both marine and freshwater snakes and terrestrial ones, and there just wasn’t enough evidence to know for certain. This discovery lends support to the terrestrial origin hypothesis. This is the way science works, by collecting evidence wherever it can be found until there is adequate support for one way or the other. Or a different idea entirely. Evidence leads the way.

So it is not true, as implied, that science was all wrong and will have to be massively modified.

This discovery may not prove the entire biblical account of Adam and Eve outright, but it does lend support for its validity with substantial evidence that cannot be ignored.

No. Still sorry. It doesn’t lend any credibility at all to your story.

Share this post on Facebook and Twitter because this is a huge discovery that goes against the conventional wisdom of our anti-Christian society.

I wouldn’t, because it doesn’t.

Honestly, as I’ve said before, you people should be sure you understand evolution before you start writing about it.

But let’s continue, now that we’re talking about the 4-legged snake. USA Today quotes  British paleontologist David Martill, who identified the ancient snake in the German museum:

The slab of stone in an obscure museum was labeled “unknown fossil vertebrate.” But when British paleontologist David Martill saw it, he knew at once that it was something extraordinary.

“I thought, ‘Blimey! That’s a snake!’ … Then I looked more closely and said, ‘Bloody hell! It’s got back legs!’” says Martill, of Britain’s University of Portsmouth. When he noticed the fossil also had front legs, “I realized we’d actually got the missing link between lizards and snakes.”

The fossil is estimated to be 110 to 125 million years old, and it’s the first 4-legged snake ever discovered. So, yes. This is important; but it was not unexpected. Several fossil snakes with hind legs have been found, but no forelegs before. Some modern anacondas have

The researchers say it appears to have been a constrictor, and it had the remains of a small animal – perhaps a salamander or frog – in its gut. Thus its scientific name: Tetrapodophis amplectus, or “four-footed snake that embraces.” The researchers nicknamed it “Huggy Snake,” because they said it hugged its prey.

It also had a hinged jaw that allowed it to open wide and curved teeth for holding its prey. It had more than 150 vertebrae in its back and neck and a layer of large, flat scales on its belly, which are “uniquely snake-like,” according to study co-author Longrich. It was only about 8-inches long.

The complete skeleton of Tetrapodophis, with its head on the left (above), was on exhibit at the Solnhofen Museum in Germany labeled “Unknown Fossil Vertebrate,” but nobody had noticed its feet or legs until Martill spotted them during a visit to the museum. For that matter, it hadn’t even been identified as a snake.

4-legged snake fossil with feet

“I thought, ‘Bloody hell, it’s got back legs!'” Martill said. “It had front legs. Nobody had ever seen a snake before with four legs, and yet evolutionary theory predicts that there should be an animal that is transitional between four-legged lizards and snakes, and here it was.”

How many times have you heard creationists claim the are no transitional fossils? It’s a very common claim. Well, here’s one now. There are thousands more, too.

This fossil has other classic snake features, including a short snout, a long braincase, an elongated body, fanged teeth, and a flexible jaw to swallow large prey. It also has a similar vertebral column that allows the snake to be extremely flexible, they said. But it has those legs and feet. With five toes each. I’m not sure how it could be much more transitional.

Tetrapodophis and other ancient snakes hail from Gondwana, the ancient supercontinent that covered the Southern Hemisphere. Brazil was a part of it.

Michael Caldwell of the University of Alberta, one of the proponents of the marine-origin hypothesis, says he doesn’t think it’s even a snake. He said in an email that the specimen lacks “key features” of the vertebrae that would identify it as a snake. But University of Arizona evolutionary biologist John Wiens, who like Caldwell is not affiliated with Team Huggy, says the new fossil is probably a snake, and a “very interesting” in-between animal at that. Study co-author Longrich points out that the fossil had more than 150 vertebrae in its back and neck and a layer of large, flat scales on its belly. Those traits are “uniquely snake-like,” he says.

Allison Hsiang, a postdoctoral researcher of geology and geophysics at Yale University, who was also not involved in the study, called the newly identified fossil “really cool and important.” She sai, “It fills in the picture that we always kind of knew was there, but here’s the evidence of snakes evolving from lizards with four legs.”

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