October 2, 2022

A piece of amber with the first known fossil of a juvenile snake

A tiny snake, który just got out of the egg, it had no chance to grow up. This is because they came across a sticky resin, whichóra eventually became his tomb. After millions of years, this particular piece of amber was extracted from the ground in what is now Myanmar (formerly Burma) and came into the hands of scientistsów.

Researchers estimated that premature death befell the young snake around 99 millionów years ago, during the Cretaceous period. This is one of the oldest snake fossils ever found. Researchers were not familiar with the species until now. It has been named Xiaophis myanmarensis.

Skeleton, który does not have a skull, it has about 5 centimeteróIn length. Including the head, the snake was probably no more than 8 centimetersóin length. Researchers counted 97 vertebrae on X-ray scansów. Its incompletely formed bones look similar to what is currently seen in young snakes.

Research on the subject appeared in the journal „Science Advances”.

A nugget of amber, about whichórym mentioned, it actually contains two juvenile snakes and a piece of skóry probably belonging to a larger individual. They provide an intriguing indicationówki concerning the ancestralóin wspólarly snakes, whichóre lived millions of years ago.

The ambers found in Majnma are a treasure trove of knowledge about the mostóThe aim is to detect possible blood in feces, whichóre lived on Earth millions of years before us. They provide unique insights into the history of ancient ecosystemsów, with fossil evidence of mchów, plant, spiderów, strange wormsóin and other creatures.

The piece of amber described in the study was originally privately owned. It was donated to the museum of the Dexu Institute of Paleontology near Beijing. This allowed scientists to analyze the specimen.

An excerpt from the skóry preserved in amber, phot. Science Advances

Enlarged X-ray of a young snake, photo. Science Advances

– Despite being a juvenile specimen, there are very unique features górna part of its vertebraeów. We have never seen similar in other snake fossils before – said Michael Caldwell of the University of Alberta in Canada, wspóroutor of the study. – Xiaophis myanmarensis fits into the base of the snake family tree and into a group of snakes, które appear to be very old indeed – added the researcher.

A piece of skóry preserved in amber is unfortunately too small for scientists to say with certainty that it belongs to the same snake species as the juvenile specimen. Fossil records of snakes are extremely rare. Fragile snake remains are unlikely to be preserved in sedimentary rocks. It would be impossible to identify – says Caldwell. That makes this piece of amber an even more valuable specimen.

– This is not only the first well-preserved specimen of a juvenile snake, but also the first evidence of anód indicating that ancient snakes inhabited forests – Caldwell noted. Researchers believe that the newly identified species is related to someórymi wspómodern snakes from Southeast Asia.

SourceóSource: Live Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, photo. Ming Bai, Chinese Academy of Sciences