The origin of snakes is one of the most controversial topics in vertebrate evolution. In 2015, paleontologists described a unique discovery from the Early Cretaceous in Brazil as the first known snake to retain the rudimentary rudiments of four limbs. The animal was named Tetrapodophis amplectus, which in Greek means "four-legged snake."

She had four limbs - so tiny that they can be safely called rudimentary. Researchers attributed the creature to ancient lizards that lived more than 110 million years ago. The scientific world was delighted with this news, since in this way a long-standing dispute about the ancestors of snakes was resolved.

However, a new study by scientists from the Universities of Alberta (Canada), Flinders (Australia) and Harvard (USA) showed that Tetrapodophis amplectus was not an ancestor of snakes. Paleontologists believe that the animal belongs to a group of extinct marine lizards known as dolichosaurs.

The teeth of Tetrapodophis amplectus do not resemble those of a snake. The same can be said for the skull and skeleton as a whole. In the prints of the creature, paleontologists did not see the large abdominal scales that are characteristic of snakes. In addition, the remains of a fish were found in the stomach of the animal, from which it was concluded that it was a sea creature.

The article was published in the journal Systematic Paleontology

PHOTO: In shallow water off the coast, Tetrapodophis amplectus glides over a tangle of branches of the coniferous tree Duartenia araripensis, which fell into the water, sharing this habitat with a water bug from the family Belostomatidae and small fish (Dastilbe sp.) © Julius Csotonyi

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