Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

The Curious Case of the Snake with Foot


Shortly before the Blue Hill Sloth, a curious creature showed up in China:

“A snake with a single clawed foot has been discovered in China, according to reports. Dean Qiongxiu, 66, said she discovered the reptile clinging to the wall of her bedroom with its talons in the middle of the night.
[Telegraph: Snake with foot found in China]

Snakes with limbs are not unheard of, since their ancestor did have limbs, but that claw does not looks right. This is how it usually happens:


Fellow Roberto Takata, from Gene Repórter, emphasized the strangeness of the supposed mutation:

The leg doesn’t fit. It if it was a case of atavism, I would expect the leg to be in the right orientation, but it seems to point in the wrong direction, besides not being in the right position – judging by fossils and the sexual hook of the jiboia, atavic legs should come up near the anus. The coloration pattern, although similar, also doesn’t quite match. And in a case of atavism, perhaps the most usual would be to find two legs, not only one, though a combination of congenital malformation could explain it.”

What would be the explanation for this curious case then? Takata also gives the answer:

I would say the poor animal had a lateral burst and the leg of its last meal is coming out. Or, better yet, its arm. I suspect it’s a frog’s arm – modern frogs and amphibians have four fingers in their front legs, in general, without claws.”

He also reminded of a previous case of a python who “bursted” after swallowing an alligator in the Everglades:


Here too, the two animals seem fused into one and one can’t quite easily tell where one begins and the other ends. And as in the case of the Panamanian sloth’s carcass, the explanation seems obvious… but only in retrospect. Kudos to Takata for solving this.

I was in doubt if the leg coming out of the Chinese snake wasn’t perhaps of another reptile, perhaps a small gator, and Takata kindly provided an illustration to support his suggestion that it was indeed a frog (click to enlarge):


The four fingers probably seal the deal: it’s a frog. Speaking of frogs, that also reminded me of a previous case that also came to the media spotlight. The three-headed frog:

That one made to the BBC… and like the sloth, like the burst snake, was a simple misinterpretation. Not a three-headed frog, just three frogs, with one-head each, in amorous embrace, as Ray Girvan pointed out.

And that ends the curious case of the snake with a foot. From a frog.

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Posted in Criptozoology | 4 comments

4 Comments so far

  1. La serpiente con patas, caso resuelto. September 28th, 2009 7:00 am

    […] el mismo articulo de Forgettomori, aparece este vídeo de una rana de 3 cabezas, totalmente […]

  2. Atrueoriginall September 28th, 2009 7:27 pm

    Even though your reasoning is probably correct, there is a particular species of lizard that evolved into a snake and then evolved back into a lizard. As a matter of fact, if you surf a bit, you’ll even come across snakes with feet.

  3. strange rob September 30th, 2009 3:45 am

    Facinating explanation. I don’t suppose anyone knows if some reptile expert has given the snake in question a physical look over or perhaps even dissected it?

  4. mactonnies (Mac Tonnies) September 30th, 2009 5:18 am

    The Curious Case of the Snake with Foot: http://tinyurl.com/yeqw8fx

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