The movement of these lizards has evolved over time to become less reliant on their legs. Lizards, which belong to the reptile family, can trace their lineage back to a group of animals. Unlike other modes of transportation, lizards do not rely on their legs. Similar to humans, snakes have also undergone evolutionary changes.
There is a lot of scientific disagreement about how and why these distinct species evolved in certain ways, with some saying that snakes still have the necessary genetic code to build feet and legs. Lizards, which are members of the Squamata order, have fully developed legs that they use to move, while snakes prefer to slither.
Researchers have recently discovered that a type of prehistoric serpents had hind limbs until approximately 70 million years in the past. Reptiles such as pythons and boas still retain small hind legs, which they utilize for mating functions.
How did these snakes come to have legs? It is because multiple genetic mutations occurred over a million years ago, which turned off the genetic makeup that drives this process of exploring more with feet.
The Genetic Basis of this Mutation
Snakes are inactive, while lizards are active. The gene SHH serves as a guide for animals in positioning their feet and legs, as well as their organs. It also serves as an example for other purposes. The SHH gene is also essential, as it is responsible for developing limbs, and over time, if it has been damaged, it can be responsible for developing more than just limbs (Sonic Hedgehog gene).
A snake with legs is an unusual occurrence, which is why this enhancer has been largely, though not completely, excluded from snake DNA sequences as time has passed. In contrast, the SHH gene necessitates the presence of enhancers for the appropriate development of limbs, which is why a lizard develops four legs. Thanks to enhancers, a type of DNA sequencers, certain genes can be activated and deactivated during the growth phase of lizards.
Feet or Legs? What do snakes possess?
Despite the snake’s absence of limbs, it possesses toes. Lizards, known for their feet, are the ancestors of snakes, which provides evidence of snakes once having feet.
How about Infant Serpents?
When snake embryos develop, they begin to observe the development of fibula and tibia, as well as the femur, just a few days after they are old. A study published in the current issue of the Biology journal highlights that even in a short period, such as in python embryos, the development of fibula and tibia, as well as the femur, can be observed.
Can we refer to Lizards as Legless Snakes?
Snakes have no external appendages at all, while lizards have vestigial limbs. Many “legless” snakes have no external appendages, whereas most lizards have external ears and eyelids. In addition, snakes are not lizards, as they do not have legs. However, the key lies in their ancestry.
What are Legless Lizards Known as?
The glass lizards, in their original state, either lacked limbs entirely or possessed only a tiny fragment. When these creatures are shattered, they fragment into smaller pieces resembling glass. Their tails are so fragile that they easily detach, hence the name “glass lizards.” While most individuals envision legless lizards, the concept of a glass lizard comes to mind.
Also Read: Which Pastel Ball Python is Suitable for Keeping as a Pet?
How many Limbs do Pythons and Boas possess?
On each side of the spurs of pythons and boas, there are two legs and a remaining pelvic girdle that function as a vent, even though snakes typically do not have legs for the purpose of identifying and tracking.
How about Talons?
“Boulenger’s ‘Catalogue of Snakes in the British Museum’ reveals that snakes belonging to the kindred species of boas and pythons possess claw-like spurs on either side, as per the vents.”
What does it mean? Some primitive snakes may be able to produce limbs with just a few genetic changes. Their DNA already contains the necessary components for this to happen; they just need the appropriate circumstances to set them in motion.