The Telegraph ran a piece two days ago about the discovery of a snake with a foot in China, including a photo of the animal. Although the photo is too poorly done to permit a real scientific evaluation, a few red flags suggest a possible alternative explanation - that the foot belongs to a prey item. First, the snake's body is obviously bulged in the vicinity of the foot indicating the snake likely just ingested a large prey item. Second, the foot is facing backwards - the direction we'd expect given the snakes tend to consume their prey head first. Third, the foot is really an entire limb complete with digits: although elegant developmental studies have shown that snakes are capable of producing rudimentary limbs, they don't produce the sort of fully formed feature we see in this photo. The Telegraph article suggests that the snake is being studied by the Life Sciences Department at China's West Normal University in Nanchang. My guess is that this study came to an abrupt end when they cut the snake open and found a partially digested lizard in its belly.
Given the quality of the evidence, this story has gotten far more attention than it deserves (1, 2, 3).
UPDATE: I'm not the first to propose that this limb is from a prey item. Comments at Pharyngula suggested the same explanation earlier today.
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