Herpetologists the world over are no doubt astounded, intrigued and alarmed at the discovery of a snake in China that apparently had grown a single, reptilian leg from its belly.

The British Telegraph reported that sixty-six-year-old Dean (or Duan… the name varies in written reports) Qiongxiu of Suining, Southwest China, discovered the reptile clinging to the wall of her bedroom–using the talons of its single claw–in the middle of the night. “I woke up and heard a strange scratching sound. I turned on the light and saw this monster working its way along the wall using his claw.”

Although I’ve heard a variety of reports of “spontaneous evolution” and the like recently, this story is particularly interesting… although in all likelihood the appearance of the critter’s “claw” was probably the result of a mutation or strange birth defect. Strange appearances of vestigial tails, pharyngeal slits and other things do sometimes occur, since in early embryonic stages all vertebrates possess these characteristics. According to some, this lends a little weight to the theory of “common ancestry” between various species, and hence evolution in general. However, usually these tails and gills aren’t functional body parts; if indeed this snake had utilized its single claw in the act of climbing along walls, etc, it would certainly be considered a remarkable instance of mutation among the species.

Still, fossils of snakes with legs dating back 95 million years have been discovered in deposits near modern day Jerusalem. Dubbed Haasiophis terrasanctus (see image below), the creature’s sedimentary surroundings indicate it lived a seafaring lifestyle. Science reported in March of 2000 that “its advanced anatomy could overturn a current theory about the marine origin of snakes,” and now, possibly lend to an evolutionary reason for the strange appendage found on Mrs Qiongxiu’s discovery.

In addition to reports of fossilized snakes with legs, it is noteworthy to Gralien Report readers that I found this story to be familiar in other ways (as is often the case in the study of mystery weirdness and crypto-critters). Perhaps you too will recall a similar story that appeared here in March of 2008, where I shared a letter I received a while back in response to an article I wrote for FATE Magazine. In it, the author described a similar creature discovered in Georgia; below I have included this story, a particular favorite of mine, again for you to peruse:

I read and enjoyed your article in FATE Magazine. I am very enthralled by cryptozoology, especially the second variety dealing with critters which seem to match no others in existence, but rather seem as denizens of a bad acid trip.

Here in central Georgia several years ago a retired chiropractor, while driving to a small town, notices a group of DOT (highway repair) workers standing in a huddle on the side of the road. Since small town folk tend to know each other, he stopped and inquired about the focus of their attention.

It seems that they had captured what he describes as a rattlesnake with two front legs with claws, from around which coarse hair hung forth.

The old guy is not a drunk, liar, or one to see things that aren

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Author: Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, researcher, and podcaster. His interests include areas of history, science, archaeology, philosophy, and the study of anomalous phenomena in nature. He can be reached at info@micahhanks.com.