Scientists Have Discovered Why Snakes Lose Their Legs

Photo Credits: phys.org

Photo Credits: phys.org

“How snakes lost their legs has long been a mystery to scientists, Dr. Hongyu “Yi says in a press release from the University of Edinburgh. But that mystery may have finally been solved thanks to a 90-million-year-old skull and advanced CT scan technology,” according to newser.com.

“It’s been long theorized that the ancestors of modern snakes lost their limbs when they evolved to live in the sea,” confirmed to newser.com. “The findings show snakes did not lose their limbs in order to live in the sea, as was previously suggested,” explained by sciencedaily.com.

Geoscientist Dr. Hongyu Yi analyzed the inner workings of a Dinilysia patagonica, which was believed to have evolved and lost their legs to live in the sea, referring to wired.co.uk.“Yi, along with researchers from the American Museum of Natural History, built 3D models to compare the inner ears of the fossils with those of modern snakes and reptiles,” as stated by wired.co.uk.

CT scans, or computerized tomography scans, are used in the medical field quite often on humans for x-rays. CT scans are also used by scientists on fossils to discover more about an animal. “Industrial, high Resolution X-ray CT scanners can be used to create detailed 3-D images of fossils. The scanners operate similarly to the medical CT scanners found in hospitals, but generate a more intense X-ray bombardment that is capable of penetrating the fossils. The X-ray “slices” through the fossils, allowing scientists to view and study them from the inside,” according to mnh.si.edu.

“Comparisons between CT scans of the fossil and modern reptiles indicate that snakes lost their legs when their ancestors evolved to live and hunt in burrows, which many snakes still do today,” as reported by phys.org.

Dr. Hongyu Yi’s work actually proves the opposite of the thought that snakes evolved to live in the sea; it proves that snakes actually lost their legs when their ancestors evolved to live in, and hunt burrows, in agreement with wired.co.uk