Temporal range: Early Cretaceous
|An artist's illustration of Tetrapodophis amplectus|
Martill et al., 2015
| Tetrapodophis amplectus|
Martill et al., 2015
Tetrapodophis (meaning "four-foot snake" in Greek) is an extinct genus of snake from the Early Cretaceous of Brazil. It is the only known snake with four legs. The animal itself discovered quite new.
The type species, Tetrapodophis amplectus, was named in 2015 on the basis of a complete skeleton (BMMS BK 2-2) preserved on a limestone slab in the Bürgermeister Müller Museum inSolnhofen, Germany, which was labeled as "unknown fossil" until its importance was recognized by paleontologist David Martill. Another proof indicates there are MANY unnamed prehistoric animal species hidden in museum's stock rooms.
The specimen was determined to come from the Early Cretaceous Crato Formation inCeará, Brazil. Hinting snakes might have originated from South America.
The animal was; like all snakes; a carnivore and; like most reptiles; was cold-blooded. The animal probably hunted anything smaller than itself that it could catch; Like our small ancestors, small reptiles like lizards, smallest avian\bird dinosaurs and maybe newborn dinosaurs. The animal itself was quite small so it probably was hunted by several species.
Tetrapodophis possesses small yet well-developed fore- and hindlimbs, a feature found in no other snake living or extinct. İt is unknown if it can walk; but given its limbs are well developed; it is a big possibility.
Nevertheless it shares many characteristics with modern snakes, including an elongated body, short tail, broad belly scales, a skull with a short snout and long braincase, curved jaws, and sharp hooked teeth. The high number of vertebrae (upwards of 150) in Tetrapodophis and other snakes is not seen in other burrowing reptiles with elongated bodies and reduced or absent limbs, meaning that it is most likely not an adaptation for a serpentine form of locomotion, and may instead be an adaptation for constricting prey, which is a behavior unique to snakes.