28 March 2007

Adriosaurus microbrachis

Remains from a 95-million-year-old marine creature with nubs for legs is clarifying how some lizards shed their limbs as they crept through evolutionary time and morphed into slinky snakes.

Described in the current issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, the snake-like lizard had a small head and willowy body. Extending 10 to 12 inches from snout to tail, the aquatic creature also sported a lengthy neck and relatively large rear limbs. Missing were all the bones of its forearms, including the hands and digits found in modern lizards.

The oddball creature, Adriosaurus microbrachis, is a member of a lineage of lizards thought to be snakes' closest relatives.

More, including an artist's conception, here.

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