Creationists Explain Lizard-to-Snake Fossil

Last week we posted Another Transitional Fossil — Lizard to Snake, at the end of which we said:

Now you have two competing theories about the origin of snakes: One, that snakes evolved from lizards, and transitional fossils exist as evidence; or two, that snakes lost their legs in a Ka-boom! event in the Garden of Eden after one of them tricked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. You decide, dear reader.

To help you in making your decision, we present to you, dear reader, the viewpoint from Answers in Genesis (AIG), one of the major sources of young-earth creationist wisdom. What we found is in AIG’s News to Note, February 12, 2011 — “A weekly feature examining news from the biblical viewpoint.”

It’s the fourth item down. The title is a link to an article from the BBC, which is often the the source of AIG’s information: Studying How Snakes Got Legless. Here are some excerpts from AIG’s reaction to the news, with bold font added by us:

Although evidence of limb-loss in snakes may seem like clear-cut evidence for the truth of Genesis 3, evolutionists have their own stories about how lizards or a form of marine reptile lost their limbs in becoming modern snakes.

Right. In the creationist version of reality, “snakes” with limbs existed only briefly in the Garden of Eden, yet AIG isn’t at all surprised that fossil evidence of such creatures from that very fleeting time has been found. Let’s read on:

We wrote back in September 2009 that:

[AIG quotes their earlier article:] Both evolutionists and creationists actually believe that snakes weren’t always legless. Evolutionists believe that snakes are the evolutionary descendants of lizards that gradually lost their legs (as we discussed in 2007 and 2008); thus, they view this legged snake as hearkening back to its evolutionary ancestors. As for creationists, we read in Genesis 3:14 that God punished the serpent for deceiving Eve[.]

The transitional fossils we wrote about have been known for a while, so it’s not surprising that AIG wrote about them before. What was new in our article was the discovery of a second leg for one of those fossils, such discovery made possible by improved technology. We continue with AIG’s interpretation of the evidence:

This week’s news is the publication, at last, of research we described back in April 2008. X-ray examinations of a snake fossil found in Lebanon in 2000 reveal a snake in “an early stage in limb loss.” The three-dimensional images from the X-ray scan revealed that the supposedly 95-million-year-old fossil was hiding ankle bones, though it lacked foot and toe bones. We repeat here the main points of our original analysis:

We won’t quote much from AIG’s earlier “analysis,” because you can read that at the AIG website if you like. In brief, their two points are these:

1. If snakes once had legs they’ve now lost, this fits in perfectly with the creation model. …

2. Evolutionists conceptualize snakes as evolved lizards (or marine reptiles) because it’s the only conclusion from an evolutionary standpoint — yet this conclusion ignores the fact that snakes require a very specialized backbone and some snakes have unhinging jaws, also unlike other reptiles.

After giving us their earlier “analysis,” AIG says:

In short, a snake with “legs” neither threatens the creation model nor is any evidence of a genetic information-adding evolutionary transition.

That must be deeply satisfying to the creationists. Oh, in their final paragraph they address our original point about these fossils actually being from the time of the Garden of Eden. AIG’s not worried about that. They say:

Now what about the connection between this snake and the serpent of Genesis 3, which was cursed in Genesis 3:14 to crawl on its belly? As we’ve noted previously, fossilized snake forms are most likely from Noah’s Flood, more than a thousand years after the events in Genesis 3. Furthermore, Scripture isn’t specific about the anatomy of the Eden serpent nor if the curse on it applied to all “serpents” or just one.

So there you are. They can reinterpret anything they like, not only physical evidence but also scripture, in order to make it fit their dogma. But somehow they never apply that talent to their basic message of creationism.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Creationists Explain Lizard-to-Snake Fossil

  1. I don’t know all of these creationist explanations for god’s handiwork just makes his creations seem so slip-shod and haphazard.

  2. Any snake fossil with legs, no matter how small and atrophied, are “legged snakes”. Any snake without legs is a post-Eden snake. Praise Jesus.

    Clearly it’s impossible to have a “transition” between “legs” and “no legs”, because even tiny useless legs are legs, just like there’e no possible transition between “bald” and “not bald” once we’ve defined “bald” as a percentage hairlessness.

    Normal people, of course, see the fossils on a continuum and as clear evidence that snakes gradually became legless over millions of years.

  3. Huh. That last paragraph from AIG makes no sense at all.

    It’s so funny to read how the AIG nuts rationalize the bit of evolution they accept when we read the portion of #1 you didn’t include above:

    1.If snakes once had legs they’ve now lost, this fits in perfectly with the creation model. The “evolution” we observe around us is all information-reducing, degenerating change. That is, creatures become less sophisticated from their original forms and actually lose features and functionality. It makes sense, then, that snakes may have been created with legs but that over time, natural selection in specific environments favored those without legs—a simpler form. That said, these so-called “legs,” which evolutionists admit were too short in this specimen to be used for ambulation, may have been used in copulation. Perhaps no snakes ever “walked” in any sense.

    They just don’t see how much they dance around the acceptance of evolution, do they?

  4. Because, of course, snakes aren’t highly adapted to a legless existence. Are they?

    So just add legs, and they’re walking about like any other tetrapod. Uh-huh, all of those additional vertebrae wouldn’t require support by numerous additional legs.

    Surprise, creationists know nothing about anatomy and physiology–or if they do, it’s quickly submerged by their wishful thinking.

    And for the IDiots accepting of “evolution,” well, it’s just too easy. God clearly designed snakes bit by bit from tetrapods, following the route we’d expect of unthinking evolution. That’s what the current crop of Gods do, so why should we expect anything else?

  5. I believe Ken Ham does not have legs.

    Even if he does have legs, he is still a snake.

  6. This is a “heads I win; tails you lose” argument. I can beat you at any game you choose, so long as I get to change the rules whenever I wish. It’s like playing checkers with a young child.

  7. Yeah, Glen, I love the way they say that the leg loss shows a loss of information too.
    Heck, snakes can climb trees without the assistance of legs. Those incredible abdominal muscles develop simply because snakes do lots of crunches!

  8. The “no gain of information” argument is so tired as to be absurd. We’ve witnessed gains of new genetic information from bacteria to mosquitoes. Sometimes they’re right that the evolution of a new trait results from loss of information… ex., bacteria losing the protein with which an antibiotic interacts; but more often it’s an entirely new protein requiring new genes that develops. I cite the development of nylon digesting bacteria, bacteria that can metabolize arsenic, chloroquine resistant malaria. It goes on and on. Our own immune systems are a great example of genetic copying and then subsequent mutation adding to the variety. I just want to scream when the Creationists persist with the same tired BS.

  9. My problem with the creationist linking this to genesis is that if god made the “serpent” legless, wouldn’t the simple reading of the scripture mean that the serpent went from being a four legged creature to being a creature with zero legs? Where is there room for a partially legged creature? Did god say “cursed are you – I will take away your feet up to your ankles, so that you must crawl on your belly and eat dust all the rest of your days”? As an aside, what was that “eat dust” commandment all about? Have we ever found a snake that subsists on dirt?

    AiG also doesn’t make much of the dating of the fossil in their article. They mention in passing that it is a “supposedly 95-million-year-old fossil”. That’s it. If this were a 6,000 year old find, they would be dancing in the streets.

  10. Now Ed, you know you shouldn’t take the babble literally. “Eat dirt” is just one of the many metaphors god uses in his word.
    Knowing what is metaphor and what is not is only revealed to those, like Ken Ham, who have a special gift.

  11. So, why was God punishing the whales when they lost their legs?

    “Studying How Snakes Got Legless.”

    I prefer the internal application of alcohol for getting legless, myself.

  12. meh don’t you know that god loves whales so much he created them twice (well more than twice)? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtFHBV0jEE8&feature=player_embedded

  13. Does the fossil evidence say anything about whether this snake was also capable of speech? The way I understand it, leg-loss and speech-loss were two adaptations that happened more or less simultaneously over a period of… oh, say, four of five seconds.

  14. Lynn Wilhelm: I just went to your link. “When they do (go extinct) he (God) makes new ones?!?” OK, I give up. What do these guys think God had against Dodo birds? Passenger pigeons?

  15. PZ posted that video today. The timeliness was so appropriate with SC’s post here.

  16. Ellie writes: “When they do (go extinct) he (God) makes new ones?!?” OK, I give up. What do these guys think God had against Dodo birds? Passenger pigeons?

    And when do we get to see the replacements? They ought to be popping into existence any time now.

  17. The common story is God punished the serpent for deceiving Eve, and thus God deprived the snake of his legs. But another version of the story (consistent with the existence of transition fossils) is that the snake lost his legs in two stages. His original leg-shortening was a punishment for being a smart-ass. Soon after the creation, God told all of the creatures to go forth and muliply. The snake wise cracked, “How can I? I am an adder!” Nobody, not even God, likes a smart-ass.

  18. Shouldn’t that be “smart-asp”?

  19. It is a lizard without legs a reptile to be sure but not directly related to snakes. They have lost their legs independently of snakes and are hence an excellent example of . True snakes lack eyelids so they cant blink and since they have no ears they are completely deaf though they can pick up vibrations through their jaw bones .