Have Snakes Lost Their Legs?

Hall of Life—Reptile and Amphibian Exhibits

on May 16, 2016

The Educator’s Guide to the American Museum of Natural History’s exhibit “Lizards and Snakes: Alive!” states:

All of the almost 8,000 living squamates [lizards and snakes] can trace their lineage back to one common ancestor that lived at least 200 million years ago. Since that time, many squamate groups have gone extinct and new groups have evolved. Dozens of squamate groups have undergone limb reduction and loss. Limblessness is an excellent adaptation to life underground, where much food is found and predators are few. Losing limbs may have allowed squamates to take advantage of resources unavailable to limbed vertebrates.

Despite no one ever observing it, descent from a common ancestor is once again assumed. Did that ancestor live on land? Or was it a marine creature? Once again, evolutionists aren’t sure—yet they are sure that squamates have evolved from non-squamates.

So what about fossils of snakes that allegedly show snakes with limbs in the past? Even assuming it could be established that the ancestor of snakes today had legs, creationists have no problem, in principle, with loss of features through natural processes.

How creatures lost legs is no explanation for the origin of legs in the first place and is not evidence for molecules-to-man evolution, which requires addition of new genetic information. Loss of legs could be achieved through degeneration of the DNA information sequences that specify leg development.

Additionally, evolutionists themselves are confused about what this might mean. Features claimed by one group as evidence for an evolutionary relationship are claimed by other evolutionists as evidence of “convergence” (similar structures that evolved separately and are not the result of having common ancestry). Further, the “rudimentary legs” on some snakes are acknowledged as having a function during reproduction, as claspers during copulation.

Are snakes with legs evidence of the serpent in Genesis? We ought to be wary of rushing to compare such finds to the Genesis serpent. The fossils most likely formed during Noah’s Flood, hence the creatures they represent were in existence some 1,600 years after the cursing of the serpent to crawl on its belly.

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