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X-rays find ancient snake’s hidden legs

New x-ray images of a 95-million-year-old snake fossil have revealed the creature’s hidden leg, proving that snakes evolved from lizards, not from a water-based ancestor.

One leg was already visible on the fossil’s surface. Now, powerful X-rays have revealed a second leg that was hidden in the stone (3D reconstructions of the newly found leg bones are shown above). The leg’s structure, which is bent at the knee with four anklebones but no foot bones, resembles that of today’s terrestrial lizards, suggesting snakes’ ancestors evolved on land.

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Story: Caitlin Stier, New Scientist | Photo: A. Houssaye

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