Biology

Weird ancient snakelike fossil caught in the act of losing its legs

Two 308 million-year-old fossils show creatures caught in evolutionary limbo between two forms: lizard-like and snake-like. The animals’ sinuous, serpentine bodies have no front limbs, but sport two teeny lizard legs in the back.

Scientists recently identified these unique fossils as a newfound genus and species, which they named Nagini mazonense in a new study published Monday (March 28) in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. The specimens represent the earliest known examples of evolutionary limb loss in amniotes — animals that produce embryos protected by an amniotic sac, a group that includes mammals, birds and reptiles.

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