A new fossil discovery lends credence to the biblical narrative found in the book of Genesis that snakes may once have had legs.
Archaeologists in Patagonia, Argentina, recently found an extremely well preserved skull of a previously unknown species of snake that had hind legs, a study published in Science Advances journal last Thursday describes.
The group of researchers have named the newly discovered species "Najash rionegrina" after the Hebrew word, "nahash," meaning "snake."
Bible-believers are calling the discovery proof that the Genesis account of the serpent in the Garden of Eden is accurate.
What does the Bible say?
In the book of Genesis, the serpent, used by Satan, tricks the woman to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, an act which God had forbidden.
For its actions, God pronounced a curse on the serpent, saying "'because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.'" (Genesis 3:14, English Standard Version)
The account seems to indicate that before the curse, snakes had legs like other "beasts of the field."
The Science Advances study described understanding the adaptations in snake species' as a prevailing challenge due to the "very limited fossil record" of early snakes.
Though scientific researchers have long believed early snakes had legs due to the changes of structure leading to the modern snake's skull, they lacked the fossil record to back it up.
The recent discovery provide scientists with "the first three-dimensionally preserved skulls of the legged snake 'Najash.'"
It is not the first time, however, that legged snake fossils have been discovered, but debate about where snakes evolved from has been hotly contested. There are two main theories: One says that snakes evolved in the ocean and later colonized land, and the second argues that snakes evolved from burrowing lizards.
The "Najash" discovery is pertinent for the latter theory.
In an article on Live Science, the two authors of the published study, Michael Caldwell and Alessandro Palci, say, among other things, "the skull of Najash tells us that ancestral snakes were very similar to some of their close lizard relatives, such as big-bodied, big-headed lizards like Komodo dragons."
"This is a far cry indeed from the idea that snakes could have evolved from tiny, blind, worm-like, small-mouthed ancestors," they added.