A Snake with a single clawed foot has been discovered in China.
Hoax or Fact:
The message shows a picture of a Snake with a single clawed foot grown out of its body, claiming that it has been found in China. Yes, it is a fact.
This Snake with a foot grown out of its stomach was discovered by a 66 year old woman Duan Qiongxiu from Suining, southwest China, as reported by The Telegraph and few others in September 2009. Mrs Duan was terrified to discover this one-legged mutant reptile snake in her bedroom. She explained the incident saying:
"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."
Mrs Duan told that she was so scared to see the mysterious snake that she grabbed a shoe and beat it to death before preserving it in a bottle of alcohol. The one-legged snake which was 16 inches long and as thick as a little finger, was later handed over to the Life Sciences Department at China's West Normal University in Nanchang for further studies. Scientists who were shocked to see it wanted to study this mysterious mutant snake, as to how it managed to grow a complete foot with four claws on its stomach.
It is interesting to note that such a mutation in snakes is not impossible. Some snakes have the remains around their hips, and also vestigial remnants of limbs around their cloaca (i.e. the posterior opening that serves as the only opening for the intestinal, reproductive, and urinary tract). Moreover, all snake genomes contain the DNA needed to produce a limb, so such a mutation can occur with a little tweak of these Hox genes, which determine the body's structural plan. You can see pictures of few snakes with such limbs in the reference section below.
Pollution has been shown as a reason causing Hox gene mutations in frogs, so considering the level of pollution in China, such a mutation could have possibly happened with this snake. There is also a strong hypothesis that snakes evolved from limbed ancestors and have lost them gradually.