In amber found a baby snake an age of 100 million years
In amber found a baby snake an age of 100 million years
First fossilized snake embryo ever discovered rewrites history of ancient snakes
21 July, 2018, 19:08
Scientists say that the embryo provides valuable data on how modern snakes evolved, as well as shedding light on the prehistoric environment.
At less than two inches long, the snake is very tiny and hard to see clearly with the naked eye, but the x-ray scans allowed the team to carefully study the shape and position of its bones, including a remarkable 97 vertebrae or backbones.
Caldwell explains that this is one of the first baby snake fossils found whatsoever, so the fact that it is also 99 million years old is just the cherry on top.
This has not been shown before for this time period, as the few other fossil snakes discovered come from rocks associated with rivers or the sea.
The fossil in amber was recovered in Myanmar, where various similar fossils have been retrieved. Entombed in a chunk of amber about the size of an adult thumb, it includes 97 tiny vertebrae, most with their feathery ribs still attached.
"This is the first case when we got the fossil of a baby snake", said the lecturer at Alberta University, Canada Michael Caldwell.
"We found the remaining skeleton in the amber is 4.75 centimeters long". Scientists called him "the snake of Dawn of Myanmar" (Xiaophis Myanmarensis).
The amber also contained a fragment of snakeskin with thin diamond-shaped scales.
Image credits Lida Xinget al., 2018, Science Advances. Dinosaurs roamed the land and those would have been pretty neat to see in person, but something slithering beneath your feet would have looked a lot like it does today: the snake. At almost 100 million years old, the baby snake's remains provide researchers with significant new information about the animals' development and global distribution.
The unique discovery 99 million years.
"It is clear that this little snake was living in a forested environment with numerous insects and plants, as these are preserved in the clast", Professor Caldwell said.
Using CT scans, the scientific team studied the amber fossil and compared it with modern snakes' embryos. Together the two specimens open a new chapter in the study of snake evolution and ontogeny - the study of how an individual organism develops from birth to maturity.
As Caldwell pointed out, Xiaophis myanmarensis was found to belong to "an ancient lineage living in the southern hemisphere continents of Gondwana" - an ancient supercontinent comprised of South America, Africa, India, Australia, and Antarctica, the Inquisitr previously reported. Based on what they learned, the researchers speculate that snakes may have made their transition from watery regions to forests earlier than previously estimated.
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