From “’Land not sea’ origin for snakes” (BBC News, 26 July 2012), we learn ,
One of the most primitive snake fossils ever found hints that the slithery reptiles might have originated on land, not in the sea as has been proposed.
The animal, which lived at the same time as the dinosaurs, probably emerged from a line of burrowing reptiles that lost their legs.
But new fossils from eastern Wyoming, US, belonging to the ancient snake Coniophis precedens – which lived some 65-70 million years ago – could help clear up the mystery.
According to the analysis by Nicholas Longrich from Yale University and colleagues, Coniophis lived in a floodplain environment and “lacks adaptations for aquatic locomotion”.
Bet the discussion isn’t over yet.
One thing: Losing limbs is a form of devolution, not evolution. It may be an advantage, but a loss created the advantage. It would be interesting to see if it could be reversed, to functioning limbs. Some of the snake’s adaptations are, doubtless, new features.
Meanwhile, here is a David Attenborough vid on the astonishing ways snakes get around, with some thoughts about snake evolution: