This recent discovery makes researchers reevaluate what they knew about the origins of snakes. It was previously thought that snakes appeared almost 70 million years ago, but the recent study shows that snakes have been around since the dinosaurs.
The recent study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
Scientists talk about the new study saying that it explores the origins of snakes and how this is more complex than it was previously known.
Michael Caldwell, professor at science at the University of Alberta, Canada, says that the recently discovered snake fossils will help shed some light on the gap between 140 and 100 million year ago.
Caldwell adds that according to the new study, the snakes that loved along dinosaurs looked very similar to the modern-day snakes.
One of the largest ancient snakes discovered is called Portugalophis lignites and its fossils were unearthed in Portugal in coal deposits. This snake was approximately one meter long.
Another snake species the researchers unearthed is called Diablophis gilmorei, and it was discovered in North America, from river deposits in Colorado.
The scientists explain that the appearance of snakes 100 million years ago doesn’t mean these creatures appeared suddenly, rather, it reveals a gap in the researchers’ fossil record.
According to the experts, snakes have started to evolve into their elongated, limbless bodies sometime between 167 and 100 million years ago.
Researchers say that a species of marine snake called Titanoboa, that lived approximately 90 million years ago, still had rear limbs. This snake is believed to have lived in what is now Lebanon and Argentina.
The recently discovered snake skull fossils have teeth, jaws and ribs. Some of the features are very similar to the modern snakes, like the flexible jaw and the back-pointing teeth. The fossils also reveal that ancient snakes had similar features with other lizards, like their vertebrae.
Scientists believe that the missing link in the snake evolutionary ladder would have a creature with four legs and short body.
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