MYSTERY

Scientists Find 4-Legged Snake Fossil

A fossil of what appears to be a four-legged snake found in Brazil may shed new light on evolution—if it really is a snake after all. The creature, dubbed Tetrapodophis amplectus (or four-footed serpent), is roughly 120 million years old and is roughly 20 centimeters long. The limbs were likely used for grabbing prey, and also suggest that snakes evolved from burrowing land animals rather than sea creatures. Other scientists, however, suggest it may not be a snake at all, but a member of some other group of amphibians. Adding to the controversy: No one is quite sure how, or when, the fossil got from Brazil to a museum in Germany. Brazil banned exporting its fossils in 1942.