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Quadruped of the Day: Millions of Years Ago, Snakes Had a lot More than Forked Tongues

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Snakes had four legs millions of years ago.
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Newly discovered Brazilian fossils reveal four things we never before knew about snakes.

Live Science reported that ancestors of modern snakes actually had four legs July 23. Though they might not be used how you would think.



The roughly 120-million-year-old snake, dubbed Tetrapodophis amplectus (literally, four-legged snake), likely didn't use its feet for walking. Instead, the appendages may have helped Tetrapodophis hold onto a partner while mating, or even grip unruly prey, said study co-researcher David Martill, a professor of paleobiology at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom.



Fossils had previously been found showing snakes with two legs, but these provide the first such examples of a quadruped serpent.

You gotta love this quote from Professor Martill:

"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."



Here's the whole of the discovered fossil:



From that distance, you might be tricked into believing this 120 million old thing was just identical to any old snake you'd find anywhere.

But zooming in closer, it reveals that modern-day snakes evolved from ancestors that had four legs.

Look at its little foot!



A closer shot shows just how developed the bones were in those appendages.



This artist's rendition shows how that fierce little creature might look while it prepares breakfast.



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