A research team discovered a four-legged snake fossil from Brazil, the first of its kind ever found. The limbs were structured for grasping, rather than walking, indicating that the snake moved in a traditionally snake-like fashion but used its limbs for catching prey or mating.
The snake was adapted for burrowing, rather than swimming or tree-dwelling. This contributes to evidence that snakes evolved from a burrowing ancestor, rather than from a marine ancestor.
Paleontologist Dr. Bruno Simoes comments:
"All [the latest findings] suggest that the ancestor of all snakes was a terrestrial animal... which lived partially underground."
Thanks to Elliott Bannan for sending along this article!
A 113-million-year-old fossil from Brazil is the first four-legged snake that scientists have ever seen. Several other fossil snakes have been found with hind limbs, but the new find is estimated to be a direct ancestor of modern snakes. Its delicate arms and legs were not used for walking, but probably helped the creature to grab its prey. The fossil shows adaptations for burrowing, not swimming, strengthening the idea that snakes evolved on land.