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The Myth of Snake Evolution on NTVMSNBC.COM

A report dated 9 April 2004 on the NTVMSNBC.COM news portal, titled “The evolution of snakes began on land,” dealt with a genetic analysis performed by Blair Hedges, a Penn State biology professor, and the postdoctoral fellow Nicolas Vidal. In their research, to be published in the 7 May 2004 edition of the journal Biology Letters, Vidal and Hedges compared the DNAs of 17 families of snake with lizard DNAs and determined that from the point of view of genetic similarity snakes were closer to land-based lizards than to marine ones. Based on this, the researchers claimed that snakes evolved not in the ocean, but on the land.

However, this claim about the alleged evolution of snakes constitutes no scientific evidence for the theory of evolution. The researchers “interpret” the similarities in the genes in the light of a belief in evolution, which they have adopted as a dogma right from the outset. What needs to be examined when testing the thesis that snakes evolved in a process lasting hundreds of millions of years is the fossil record. This record reveals that there is not a single scientific finding to show that snakes did emerge through evolution. Like all other living groups, snakes appear suddenly in the fossil record, together with all their particular features and with no ancestral forms behind them.

The oldest snakes found in the fossil record have no “transitional form” characteristics and are no different to present-day specimens. The oldest known snake fossil is Dinilysia, found in Upper Cretaceous rocks in South America. Robert Carroll, an expert in vertebrate palaeontology, accepts that this creature “shows a fairly advanced stage of evolution,”1 in other words that it already possesses the characteristic features of snakes.

Despite the lack of any fossil record, the origin of the snakes are the subject of an intense debate amongst evolutionists. Some evolutionists maintain that snakes evolved on land, while others suggest that they evolved from marine lizards. Neither side has any fossil evidence on which to base its claims. Despite the lack of evidence there is constant speculation about the origin of snakes, and fictitious claims have been emerging from one camp or the other for the last 130 years. 2

Indeed, this latest claim by Hedges and Vidal has also come in for objections. Michael Caldwell, a palaeontologist and snake expert from University of Alberta, has said that the findings from this research are ambiguous and far from producing any conclusions. He describes the claim in question as being no more than an “educated guess.” 3 (Not surprisingly, this criticism is ignored in the NTVMSNBC.COM report.)

An article in the September 2003 edition of Natural History magazine, the organ of the American Museum of Natural History, contained the following statements about the origin of snakes:

The [evolutionary] descent of snakes is a contentious topic in vertebrate biology and is not likely to be settled without more hard evidence. 4

As we have seen, the claim regarding the origin of snakes on NTVMSNBC.COM consists of new, questionable speculation by evolutionists that lacks any scientific foundation.

NTVMSNBC.COM’s Darwinist Prejudices

The way that NTVMSNBC.COM sets out this report is worth examining, since it bears the typical hallmarks of Darwinist propaganda. The evolutionist claim in question is portrayed as a scientific fact in the story headline (The evolution of snakes began on land), and Darwinist myths are rehearsed in the caption—to the effect that snakes evolved 365 million years ago from four-legged coastal lizards that emerged onto the land from the sea.

This is a style which Darwinist publications frequently employ in reporting stories about evolution, and can be seen in this report. Although the subject of the evolution of snakes is portrayed as a proven fact in the headline, the uncertainty over the matter only appears in the final sentence of the report:

Vidal and Hedges said that the questions of the line followed on land by evolution and when snakes began to separate from the lizards are still unclear.

Bearing in mind that many readers will make do with only reading the headline and caption accompanying such a report, then they may well form the impression that this story is a scientific fact, rather than an uncertain claim.


We would remind the NTVMSNBC.COM management to accept that Darwinism is a theory devoid of any scientific foundation, and invite them to stop misleading their readers and to abandon their blind support for the theory, which they provide because they regard it as compatible with their own world views.

1. Robert Carroll, Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, p. 235
2. Dennis O”Brien, “By land or by sea: a snake debate,” The Baltimore Sun, 9 February 2004
3. Ibid.
4. “Terrible Lizards of the Sea,” Natural History, September 2003

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