Snakes In Australia Are Growing Arms... And That's Not Even The Crazy Part!

August 6, 2016

One creature on this planet is changing so drastically that researchers believe they're watching evolution in action… even though they have no idea why.

This strange-looking creature is called a yellow-bellied three-toed skink, a species of reptile native to eastern Australia.

snake with arms
Photo credit: National Geographic

For most of its known history on Planet Earth, this type of skink has given birth by laying eggs, but recently scientists have noticed something unusual.

Yellow-bellied skinks in the warm coastal lowlands are continuing to lay eggs, but the same species in the colder mountainous regions are starting to give birth to live young.

snake with arms

This means that this type of skink is evolving to a new method of reproduction right before our very eyes. It is the first time in history that scientists have caught a reptile transitioning from one behavior to the other.

snake with arms

Baby mammals get nutrients from the placenta, and babies incubated inside eggs get their nutrients from the yolk and shell. Without either one of these protective casings, how live skink babies are surviving is currently a mystery.

snake with arms
Photo credit: Rune Midtgaard

Pretty cool, huh?

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