'Like magic:' Delicate fossil of oldest baby snake found in amber

Древнейший детеныш змеи найден в ископаемом янтаре

First fossilized snake embryo ever discovered rewrites history of ancient snakes

The paleontologists were even two rare ancient amber fragment, one of which is preserved a fragment of snake skin and the other remains just velupillaya snakes of the Cretaceous period.

"This is the first case when we got the fossil of a baby snake", said the lecturer at Alberta University, Canada Michael Caldwell.

Researchers have unearthed the very first baby snake fossil in history - and it's teaching us a lot about how snakes' biology and ecological role evolved.

The Mesozoic era, also known as "the age of the dinosaurs", or "the age of the reptiles", stretched from about 252 million years ago to about 66 million years ago, according to LiveScience.

The fossil is a 1.6-inch (4.75 cm) long postcranial skeleton made up of 97 vertebrae; the snake's head is missing. This makes them the earliest forest-dwelling snakes - nearly all other snakes known from the same period of the fossil record have adaptations for aquatic environments or were found in river sediments.

The authors named the new species of snake Xiaophis myanmarensis.

Image copyright Yi LIU Image caption The skin of a second specimen was found How did the snake become frozen in time? Fossils of an ancient snake, Eophis underwoodi, dating back 167 million years, have been found, but they are in fragments and can offer little information.

University of Alberta paleontologists worked with worldwide scientists to study the ancient embryo, which was discovered in Myanmar.

"This indicates that the mode of development of snakes seems to have been quite constant since a hundred million years ago until today".

A delicate baby snake with a remarkably well-preserved skeletal structure is the first of its kind ever found fossilized in amber. It is unclear whether the snake was an embryo or a newborn, but tiny bones alongside a large spinal cord tube suggest that the baby was still developing.

"This Asian fossil helps shed light on how primitive snakes dispersed from the southern to the northern continents". This means that snakes may have already been a part of more prehistoric ecosystems.

Anatomical features suggest development of the backbone of snakes appears to have changed little in almost 100 million years.

Both fossils are 100-million-years-old and have been dated to the Upper Cretaceous, before the time of the Tyrannosaurus rex. National Geographic placed the snake as possibly related to a group of modern snakes found in Southeast Asia.

Image copyright Lida XING, China University of Geosciences Beijing Image caption The chunk of amber that contains the baby snake What is so special about amber fossils?

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