Wednesday, 17 October, 2018


Baby snake from the time of the dinosaurs found 'frozen' in amber

Baby snake from the time of the dinosaurs found 'frozen' in amber Baby snake from the time of the dinosaurs found 'frozen' in amber
Kristine Garrett | 21 July, 2018, 19:08

The oldest known snake fossil was found trapped in amber from Myanmar dating to the Cretaceous period, making it a first of its kind.

An ancient snake provided scientists with important new information on the evolution of the modern reptile.

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.

The world's first known ancient snake embryo has been discovered in Myanmar preserved in 99 million years old amber.

The tiny snake fossil is incredibly well-preserved for being approximately 99 million years old.

The fossil in amber was recovered in Myanmar, where various similar fossils have been retrieved.

Image copyright Lida XING, China University of Geosciences Beijing Image caption The chunk of amber that contains the baby snake What is so special about amber fossils? The fossil is about 2 inches in length, and has 97 preserved vertebrae.

Paleontologist Michael Caldwell, a study co-author from the University of Alberta, said "this snake is linked to ancient snakes from Argentina, Africa, India and Australia".

"Whether or not these early snakes were giving live birth, which is common in modern snakes, or whether they were hatching from eggs, is unclear". It is just 5 centimeters long, but it was missing its skull.

"Xiaophis fits into the base of the snake family tree, and into a group of snakes that appear to be very ancient". The species from which it came from remains unknown, though, as the discarded skin was not enough to identify it.

The amber also contained a fragment of snakeskin with thin diamond-shaped scales. Image credit: Xing et al, doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aat5042.

The study reports snakes may have moved to forested environments from underwater and coastal regions earlier than previously thought, and that the mechanism through which snakes develop their spinal bones has changed very little over millions of years, Science magazine said.

The snake lived in what is now Myanmar, during the age of the dinosaurs.

Either way, considering all these awesome finds, we're sure this won't be the last time we're hearing about incredible discoveries encased in amber from Myanmar. "And having this one be almost a hundred million old is really quite fantastic", says coauthor Michael Caldwell, a fossil reptile expert at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

Fragments of plants and insects found inside the amber confirm that the snake lived in forests.

"I've learned critical details about snake development".

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