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In Myanmar, found the most ancient serpent. He got into amber 99 million years ago


In amber, found in Myanmar, found the skeleton of a baby snake. The skeleton belongs to the beginning of the Late Cretaceous and is the oldest known at the moment of the remains of the serpent. The age of the find is approximately 98.8 million years, and in addition to the remains of the serpent in amber, pieces of plants from the forest floor were also found. A study  published  in  Science .

By the beginning of the Late Cretaceous – from 100 to 95 million years ago – snakes had settled on all continents. Their skeletons of this period were found in Africa, in southern Europe, in the Middle East and in both Americas. However, all these findings were adult skeletons found in marine or river sediments. Now Lida Xing from the Chinese University of Earth Sciences and together with colleagues described the skeleton of a baby snake, frozen in a drop of amber about 98.8 million years ago. To their find they gave the species name Xiaophis myanmarensis .

Using x-ray microcomputer tomography, scientists were able to examine the skeleton in detail. The find consisted of about 97 articulated vertebrae, with a total length of only 47.5 millimeters. The caudal region is preserved (10 vertebrae), most of the vertebrae have ribs preserved, there are some scales and in some places the body shape is visible, but the skull and, according to the authors, approximately 70 more vertebrae are absent. Individual vertebrae are very small – up to half a millimeter in length.

The authors determined that the skeleton found by them belongs to the snake, according to the number of vertebrae and not fully formed, but still noticeable vertebral joints, characteristic of snakes – prominent zygosphenes and in-depth zigantrums.

The structure of Xiaophis myanmarensis resembles the structure of the young of modern snakes, for example, on the common snake ( Natrix natrix ). Signs such as incomplete ossification of the zygosphen and zygantrum, as well as incomplete closure of the chordal canal, confirm that some aspects of snake ontogenesis have remained unchanged for almost 100 million years.

There was also a second find in amber – a piece of leather covered with scales belonging to a larger snake. The authors suggest that this is the skin of an adult individual of the same species, but there is too little material to confidently attribute it to  Xiaophis myanmarensis .

In amber with samples were also insects and pieces of plants from the forest floor. This first testimony of snakes living in the forest seems to have been a wider ecology of Mesozoic snakes than previously thought.

Burmese amber (burmit) aged 105-97 million years old, which is found in Myanmar, contains many well-preserved finds from that period. And many of them were sold on the market as raw materials for making jewelry. Among others, a feathered tail of a dinosaur, a whole enantsiornisovy chick , a waspand a tailed spider were found in Burmey .

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