Slithering through Evolution
All about snakes and their weird debated evolution.
Snakes are a creature with a very debated history of evolution. Before recent years, most people thought of snakes to be descendants of mosasaurs, with some believing the legless reptiles to have come from burrowing lizards. But what’s the truth and where did they evolve from?
What Is Evolution?
DID YOU KNOW? Snake’s bodies are mostly just a really long torso (rib area) caused by evolution of the Hox gene.
The earliest modern snake fossils, without legs and classified as serpentes, is called a simoliophiids and is dated between 112 and 94 million years old!
Despite the debate between what snakes truly evolved from, marine or land animals, scientists have reached a consensus that snakes descended from lizards. Pythons and Boas, both more primitive groups of the species have vestigial hind limbs--which are really just tiny clawed digits, but they count. Two other snake types, Leptotyphlopidae and Typhlopidae, have remnants of a pelvic girdle.
As stated, scientists believed that there were two options for where snakes came from: burrowing land lizards, or aquatic reptiles called mosasaurs.
For the aquatic reptile argument, their main evidence is that it would easily explain aquatic snakes. Also, a snake’s transparent eyelids could have adapted for combat in underwater conditions, and the ears lost from disuse. The snakes on land, according to this theory, would have moved to land during the Late Cretaceous period (65.5 million years ago).
Eventually, they would have evolved into the snakes we know today. A fossil was found to support this side of the argument. It was a 95 million year old lizard with tiny front legs, also being the earliest show of snakes evolving into limbless reptiles. It also suggests that front legs shrunk before back legs.
Now, most scientists believe that snakes in fact did come from burrowing lizards, thanks to the discovery of tetrapodophis amplectus in 2015. It’s the first known snake fossil to have four limbs. It was a meat eating predator, and lived around 146 to 100 million years ago.
Quick Video On Snake Evolution
Let's not forget, they have also evolved to be able to become their own pillow. If that's not one of natures great works, then what is?