Featured in the newest Dialogue Magazine »
Why snakes are the way they are

Why snakes are the way they are


How’d you like to live the life of a snake? For one thing, you’d find getting around much different without arms and legs. But then dust would be a big part of your diet. Blah! Scientists have learned that snakes use their forked tongues for tasting and smelling. Even with its mouth closed, a snake can stick out its tongue; an amazing feat indeed. These slithering reptiles smell their prey by picking up scents from the air and from dust on the ground in order to find their next meal. The tongue then carries these particles to a specialized organ located on the roof of the mouth, called the Jacobson’s organ. This sense organ performs a chemical analysis of the ingested particles. Think of the salivating smells from some fine cooking. A snake bites the dust of the ground not so much for nutrition but for smelling his way to his next meal.

Long before scientists discovered the purpose of a snake’s forked tongue, God had revealed a very interesting detail in His Word. In at least three places, Scripture tells us that snakes do in fact ingest dust. Take Micah 7:17 for example. Here we read that “They (the enemies of God) will lick dust like a snake, like creatures that crawl on the ground.” Moreover Isaiah 65:25 declares: “the wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food.” Lastly, soon after the fall of the human race, God punished the serpent with these words: “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat (ingest) dust all the days of your life” (Gen.3:14).

When we think “snake”, a limbless reptile comes to mind. But has this always been the case? In response to the serpent’s role in the Garden of Eden, God said of the serpent, “you will crawl on your belly.” Does this passage suggest that these slithering reptiles once had legs? Recent fossil finds in Israel and Argentina give evidence of snakes with pelvic girdles (hips) and hind limbs complete with a femur, tibia, fibula and digits. The name of the fossil from Argentina is quite interesting. The discoverers named it Najesh rionengrina which comes from the Hebrew Nagesh, the legged biblical snake of Genesis.

Evolutionary scientists point to these fossils as positive proof for Darwiinian evolution; proof that snakes underwent progressive loss of their limbs as a result of a gradual decrease in their use. Evolutionists give two common accounts for the gradual loss of limbs. The first is that snakes ditched their legs to enable them to burrow into the soil in search of food. Their limbs got in the way as they struggled through narrow tunnels and small crevices. Not having limbs would be an advantage. So over time they ditched the limbs. Evolutionists who espouse this viewpoint find support in the fact that burrowing lizards have reduced limbs or no limbs at all.

The second account for why snakes lost their legs is that limbed snakes leaped into the water, lost their legs for lack of use (why they did not develop into fins is anyone’s guess), and then slithered back on land. As one evolutionist stated “whichever evolutionary path snakes took - by land or by sea - snakes lost their legs” (see USA Today article)

True enough. But even if fossil evidence suggests snakes had limbs at one time, does this prove an “amoeba to man” type of evolution? This kind of process requires huge gains in genetic information. The genetic information in humans is far more complex than in an amoeba. Darwinian evolution needs a mechanism for creating new structures, not losing them!

The creation model would predict a loss of anatomical features such as we see in snakes. Loss of anatomical structure is evidence of “devolution”, because of deteriorating genetic information since the time of the Fall. So the next time you see a slithering snake, reflect on their past history and how they came to be the way they are.

Josh Munan
December 2006

Subscribe to Dialogue