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The Mysterious History and Evolution of Snakes

evolution of snakes

There is a bit of mystery surrounding the history and evolution of snakes. The most commonly accepted theory is that they evolved from Varanids during the Jurassic Period about 150 million years ago. Some claim snakes to be from mosasaurs, a family of marine reptiles. Many claim they evolved from lizards and didn’t have any real presence until the end of the Cretaceous period.

Why is there so much opposition on this topic? Its possible due to the fragile fossil findings that were not easily preserved, making it difficult to trace. Eventually, it was said that their origins could be traced back to the Varanid family of lizards. One of the more recent discoveries, however, was that of the Tetrapodophis amplectus. The 113 million-year-old fossil showed snake-like features but it is still unsure whether or not it is part of the snake family or not. It lacked crucial snake-like features which caused this doubt.

Snakes weren’t always limbless. Some primitive snakes, like the Eupodophis, were found to have hind limbs.  One explanation for why they lost their limbs as they evolved was that they had to go into holes to reach prey like guinea pigs and other small mammals. But don’t assume all legless critters are snakes. The limbless Slowworm, for example,  is more of a lizard due to the presence of eyelids, visible ears, and the ability to regrow their tails.

There’s a popular theory from anthropologist Lynne Isbell about the relationship between snakes and humans. Isbell states that snakes played a role in the evolution of early primates. Since snakes were one of the first predators that early primates faced, it forced the primates to detect snakes quicker than any predator who evolved afterward, which in turn helped their vision and brain develop faster. Our connection with snakes seems to go deeper than many would have ever expected.

Snakes That Live Among Us Today

These days, human perception about snakes ranges from religious symbolism to phobias. We don’t really think much of them with all of the modern day distractions, but if we ever encounter one, we’re sure to notice it and have our unique reactions to it.

You can find snakes for sale as easily as you can find produce. Many breeders and shops work together to pair humans with a snake they can call their own.

After knowing the history between humans and snakes, it’s amazing that we are able to keep snakes as pets and form a bond with them. I hope that learning about the evolution and history of snakes gave you a newfound respect and appreciation for these slithering creatures.

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