Sep 15, 2009

One-Footed Snake Frightens Woman

When an elderly woman in China awoke to the sound of something scratching in her room, she turned on the lights, fearing thieves. Instead, she was greeted with the freakish sight of a seemingly one-footed (completely developed, with all four claws) snake scrabbling its way along a wall. In a panic, she grabbed a shoe and beat the mutant snake to death.

Now, I normally don't post on (supposed) mutants or wanton death, but this creature, which she ended up preserving in alcohol, deserves some studying. It's too bad it's dead (though I can understand why the woman freaked out, what with having just woken up, the fear of thieves, and the sight of a snake clawing its way through my house...), but I'll be interested to hear what the scientists who now have the snake have to say once they've done an autopsy. This might be the beginning of the Invasion.

Photo source: Blame It On the Voices

















Any thoughts from any of you? It's a small snake, no thicker than your finger. I'm reminded of those images from the Everglades a few years ago of when a constrictor tried to swallow a caiman and burst at its midsection from the effort, leaving behind a double corpse that looked like a single freakish python-caiman beast.

UPDATE: Given some of the links that you folks have provided, it looks like my thoughts on this snake actually being a victim of its victim is most likely the case. Apply Occam's Razor and ask yourself which is more likely: that a snake grew a fully functional leg, or that a lizard's hind leg ruptured out of the snake's stomach. Vestigial legs, it would seem, never really develop into fully functional legs, which would lead me to believe that this isn't the snake's own leg. Also, regarding the apparent lack of a wound: remember that this specimen has been soaking in alcohol, which may have affected the appearance of the rupture.

Two more points: 1) it is often the case in instances like this that scientists, especially young or new scientists, like to apply their most arcane, newly-discovered knowledge before exploring more mundane possibilities. 2) It's looking like the application of the shoe to this snake put it out of its misery.

Thanks for the article, Moneca and James.

12 comments:

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

EEWWWW, WHAT THE F--K. That's freakish looking and so weird.

How did a snake mutant end up with a FOOT???? Did it come from some kind of breeding gone wrong with a snake and lizard...??? anyone knows??

falnfenix said...

there's a definite food lump. my guess is the snake ate a lizard and there was a rupture at the foot, which ended up sticking out of the gut of the snake.

poor scaly. :(

cathauto said...

I saw this photo at pharyngula and some of the comments left there actually suggest that it is just a lizard that punched a claw through the abdominal wall as it was being digested. Here's the link:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/09/isnt_pleiotropy_handy.php

Hope this helps!

Anon Tree said...

Aww, cathauto beat me to it.

TYWKIWDBI also blogged about it, and a commenter posted photos of a similar case a friend of theirs found:

http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/2009/09/most-interesting-one-footed-snake-youll.html

andy said...

what the type this reptile ? this like a snake or lizard, but very scary. possible types of environmental evolution

Anonymous said...

More evidence that it's not the snake's leg, but a lizard's that it ate; that leg is in completely the wrong location for a snake's leg, if theoretically it were to grow one. Snakes with vestigial hind legs grow them where their tails starts, and I'd guess a snake growing a front leg would grow it just behind the neck. (Snakes have relatively short tails and necks; they're mostly body really.) You can tell from this image; anywhere there's internal organs, that's the snakes body. This leg is clearly in the middle, far from those locations. Its an understandable misunderstanding though, the leg's even patterned like the snake.

Anonymous said...

"2) It's looking like the application of the shoe to this snake put it out of its misery."

-So you're saying it was shoethanasia?

Raging Wombat said...

Thanks for that great point, anon with the link.

And I wish I had thought about shoethanasia! Dangit.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

oh okay, thanks everyone. So weird but funny now that I think about it. lol, poor snake must have been in pain.

Anonymous said...

If the woman hadn't committed shoethanasia, the snake might have committed shoeicide.

Raging Wombat said...

I read 'shoeicide' as 'shoeishide', and now everything I read sounds like Sid from Ice Age is reading aloud to me. It's gotta stop.

Anonymous said...

Yesh, ish jush getting shcarier and shcarier!