Snakes and Vestigials

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Jan 12, 2002.

  1. Administrator2

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    Jun 30, 2000
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    As this page so nicely shows, snakes in the python family contain anatomical structures that appear to be vestigial hind legs.

    In the context of evolution, this fact is not so surprising at all. Since snakes are reptiles, the theory of evolution tells us that snakes should have a common ancestor with all other reptiles. Since all other reptiles have four legs, it is likely, then, that this common ancestor did too. The vestigial structures we see in modern pythons, therefore, are simply the last remnants of the hind legs of this common ancestor.

    I would like to understand how this fact is explained by creation theory. If all living things were designed by some creator, then some things don't make sense to me.

    Why does a snake have vestigial hind limbs at all? Other snakes get along just fine without them.
    Why are they located right where the hind legs would have been? Why not at the very back of the animal?
    Or on top?
    Why are there exactly two of these "legs"? Why not four? Or six? Or only one?

    It would seem to me that if creation theory was to have any utility, it should be able to explain the facts and answer the simple questions outlined above. Could someone please enlighten me?

    There are many many examples of vestigial organs in all kinds of organisms -ourselves included.
    Toenails on manatee flippers, whale hip bones, horse's chestnuts (former hooves), eyes on blind cave dwelling organisms, our own tailbones and appendixes.

    Many creationists will claim that "oh they do have a purpose". Well, I just had my appendix removed -- and my digestion has never been better. So what good was it.

    If that's what many creationists claim, then many creationists don't understand what "vestigial" means.

    Of or pertaining to a vestige or remnant; like a vestige
    A visible trace, evidence, or sign of something that once existed but exists or appears no more.

    "Vestigial" does not mean "useless".

    [Referring to the opening post] These are not vestigal. The pelvic bone serves as an anchor for certain muscles, and the hind limbs are used during mating and serve to grasp during locomotion. A vesitgal is just a name given to a organ with an unknown function. Instead of doing work to see what their function is evolutionists use these as evidence for evolution. If snakes and lizards had a common anscetor we should see plenty of nice neat transistionals. What do we find in the fossil record? Distinct lizards and distinct snakes and zero intermediates. Just like every other group that supposedly shares a common anscetor.

    As already pointed out - vestigial organs may or may not still have a use.

    Zero intermediats?

    Actually, hundreds of them. Both extinct and extant.

    Existing ones are seen among the Ensatina salamanders along the california coast; each species may successfully interbreed with the neighboring species, but cannot with their neighbor's neighbor. A similar phenomenon are seen in the Rana frogs. Onychophorans (arthropods and worms), and the larvacean sea squirts (sedentary and free swimming chordates), tree shrews (transitional between primates and insectivores), lancets (transitional between vertebrates and invertebrates) , polyclad flatworms (transitional between flatworms and ribbonworms). Just to mention a few. Some of them are so "transitional" that zoologists have a hard time deciding what group they belong to (hense their notoriety for being "lumpers and splitters").

    How about the fossil record. There is a detailed list, complete with how and why each species is transitional and what defines transitional

    (regarding vestigial legs of some snakes)
    These are not vestigal. The pelvic bone serves as an anchor for certain muscles, and the hind limbs are used during mating and serve to grasp during locomotion.

    "Vestigial" does not mean "useless". Rather it means "not used for the original function". Hence legs, which are for walking, but no longer used for that purpose, are vestigial.

    Your assuming that there was a 'original' function. I see no evidence for such a hypothesis so I see the hind limbs as intentional design.

    Zero intermediats?
    Actually, hundreds of them. Both extinct and extant.

    What I meant was those crucial intermediates that would hammer the point of evolution home. Simply seeing similar 'homologous' animals does not necessarly imply transistional from a common anscetor. Where are the impressive transistionals? How about the lizard/snake intermidates with the gradual increase of vertebrae, the gradual loss of limbs , skull modifications. Its just assumed by looking at similar anatomy but in reality if it did happen there would be hundreds of these liz/snake intermidiates yet we find none.

    Snake skeletons are rather fragile, and they don't fossilize well. However, the few we do have show that they have evolved from other reptiles.

    Take a look at these links:

    There's a lot we don't know about snakes. What we have found is consistant with those things scientists had expected.

    There are also some surprises. Snakes seem to be most closely related to mososaurs, the giant marine lizards. While everyone had expected snakes and lizards to be close evolutionarily, mososaurs weren't initially the first choice.

    For pics of early snakes with legs, see this slide show presentation on transitional fossils:

    The last four slides include pictures of these snake fossils. Earlier in the slideshow you can see some nice pictures of transitional fossils between frogs and earlier amphibians, between turtles and earlier reptiles, and between lobe-finned fish and early amphibians.

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