how snakes lost their legs Animals Paleontology 

How Snakes Lost their Legs

By Kate Stone Long ago, snakes lost their legs. Now, a fresh clue as to how and why has been found deep in an ancient snake’s inner ear.  Leglessness is not what makes a snake a snake. As this article explains, it is the flexible, unhinged jaw that distinguishes a snake from a legless lizard. And yet, developing legs only to lose them may seem like evolution in reverse. A 90 million-year-old snake skull is giving researchers vital clues about how snakes lost their legs as they evolved. Comparisons between…

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Paleo reconstructions of three Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous snakes. Top left: Portugalophis lignites from Portugal; top right: Diablophis gilmorei from Colorado; bottom center: Parviraptor estesi from England (Artist’s reconstruction by Julius Csotonyi) Biology Paleontology 

Meet these 167 Million Year Old Snakes

Think of a snake and you might picture a legless reptile. There was, however, a time long ago when snakes had legs. Scientists have now determined that snakes began evolving their characteristic skulls, expandable jaws, and elongated bodies long before they lost their limbs. An international team of paleontologists has identified the fossilized remains of several ancient snakes that are, by far, the oldest ever found. The specimens, such as those pictured here, range from 140 to 167 million years old, making them nearly 70 million years older than any…

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