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New Fossil Tells Of A Terrestrial Origin For Snakes

Posted by Supersquatch , in Science vs. Religion 31 July 2012 · 1,106 views

evolution
New Fossil Tells Of A Terrestrial Origin For Snakes <p>Snakes are a group of lizards most closely related to monitors (such as the Komodo dragon) and prehistoric mosasaurs. But their origins are difficult to trace due to a lack of fossil remains. In fact, paleontologists are not even sure if snakes were originally terrestrial or aquatic animals. One of the first snakes to evolve was a Cretaceous aniliid (the family of false coral snakes, also known as pipe snakes) called Coniophis precedens.


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The skeletal remains of Coniophis precedens

C. precedens was known only, until recently, from an isolated vertebra, making it hard for paleontologists to study the actual taxon. However, a new paper in the journal Nature describes new material to this species, including a mandible, an upper jaw fragment and more vertebrae. It also seems that precedens lived in a continental floodplain environment, consistent with that of a terrestrial origin. Furthermore, its small size and reduced neural spines suggest that snakes may have evolved from burrowing lizards.

References
  • Longrich, N.R., Bhullar, B.S., Gauthier, J.A. (2012). "A transitional snake from the Late Cretaceous period of North America". Nature, in press. DOI: 10.1038/nature11227





I saw something about this last week. I'd always assumed that because they had legs, they came from land. The are impressive swimmers though, and can hold their breath for a long period of time. At least one of my boa's could. By the same token, I had another boa who would have surely died in the wild. I had to force feed him, and when it came time to shed, I put him in the sink to help him out. He had no clue how to swim, he flipped over and practically drowned. I take him to have been the exception to the rule....
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Supersquatch
Jul 31 2012 10:05 PM

The Mule, on 31 July 2012 - 09:37 PM, said:

I saw something about this last week. I'd always assumed that because they had legs, they came from land. The are impressive swimmers though, and can hold their breath for a long period of time. At least one of my boa's could. By the same token, I had another boa who would have surely died in the wild. I had to force feed him, and when it came time to shed, I put him in the sink to help him out. He had no clue how to swim, he flipped over and practically drowned. I take him to have been the exception to the rule....

That's a big evolutionary flop. ;)
I guess the entire controversy about "Were the first snakes on land or in sea?" question is that, in 1869, E.D. Cope named a group called Pythonomorpha which consisted of mosasaurs and snakes. However, more recently, affinities between varanoids and snakes (and mosasaurs) have been established.
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