Four legs too many?

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Science  24 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6246, pp. 374-375
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac5672

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A classic Gary Larson cartoon shows a robed and bearded figure rolling out clay strips, with the caption: “God makes the snake.” Body elongation was certainly fundamental in the evolution of snakes from lizards, as was the shrinking and ultimately the loss of limb pairs (limb reduction). However, informative early fossils are rare, and many details of the transition remain unresolved. A remarkable fossil described on page 416 of this issue by Martill et al. (1) brings fresh perspective to the debate. The aptly named Tetrapodophis combines a snakelike body with fore- and hindlimbs bearing five well-developed digits (see the illustration).