Archaeologists rarely fails to discover an exceptional fossil that allows you to look at the evolution of a particular group of organisms, however, this time the experts were in luck. As reported livescience.com the researchers were able to find a well-preserved skull of an ancient snake species Najash rionegrina, which had the hind legs. Such a rare find, the new fossils may help to answer age-old questions about the origin of snakes, who for some unknown reason, lost the ability to walk in the course of evolution.
Looked like a biblical serpent?
According to Science Advances, Najash rionegrina is named after the biblical snake is Nahash, which had legs. Found in the province of Rio Negro in Argentina, the fossils of the ancient reptile species, was determined by the age, which was around 95 million years. The first fossils were identified by a fragmentary skull and partial skeleton of a body that managed to keep strong hindquarters. This fossil is of great interest to the media, as previously found fossils of sea snakes significantly changed the picture of the evolution of these representatives of the order of reptiles.
Unfortunately, because of the fragmentary preserved skull of the first descriptions of Najaashi was not entirely accurate, so scientists could only guess, as presumably could look like the head of these ancient animals.
How did snakes?
Through the study of the General anatomy of reptiles, specialists have long established that snakes evolved from lizards, whose skull is the key to their successful adaptation to a highly specialized feeding method. The origin of snakes has many hypotheses, some of which is still not confirmed by official science. One of the main theories is that snakes evolved from blind, burrowing ancestor of lizards scolecophidia. They belong to the group of small, similar to worms lizards that are able to dig.
Using the data obtained after the analysis of fossil remains of a snake Najash, the researchers were able to disprove the previous theory about the origin of this species of snakes from scolecophidia. The skull of an ancient species of snakes, as it turned out, had nothing to do with skulls scolecophidia lizards, as Nagash had large mouths with sharp teeth, as well as several outdoor skull, which is typical for most representatives of modern snakes. However, snakes of ancient times still have some congruent features of bone and skulls with the typical representatives of the lizards. In the course of evolution snakes Nagas developed in the direction of increasing the mobility of the skull, which was required to absorb a fairly large production, which is also characteristic of modern snakes.
In the discovery of new fossils, scientists have been very controversial information, and some bones of ancient reptiles. For example, for a long time StartNewTo bone, located behind the eye modern snakes, was considered to be equivalent postorbital the bones of their ancestors. New knowledge about the snake species Najas convincingly demonstrate that bone located below the orbit of the eye, has the same shape, position, and connections as a modern lizards.
Thus, scientists-paleontologists have been able to refute the hypothesis about the evolution of snakes from the tiny, blind and worm-like ancestors. None of the currently discovered fossils of ancient snakes have similarities with lizards by scolecophidians, according to their evolutionary level of development of getting closer to modern Komodo dragons.