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Baby Snake "frozen in time" gives insight into lost world



  Baby Snake

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Ming BAI / Chinese Academy of Sciences

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The fossil gives an insight into how snakes became such successful creatures

The fossil of a baby snake was found buried in amber.

The creature has been frozen for 99 million years

The snake lived in present-day Myanmar, in the age of dinosaurs.

Scientists say the snake fossil is "incredibly rare."

"This is the very first baby snake fossil we've ever found," said Prof. Michael Caldwell from the University of Alberta in Canada BBC News.

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Cheung Chung Tat

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What might have been Myanmar's dawn

The baby snake lived in the forests of Myanmar during the Cretaceous. It was given the name Xiaophis Myanmarensis or the morning snake Myanmar

. A second amber fossil was discovered, which seems to contain some of the shed skin of a much larger snake. It is unclear whether this is an animal of the same species.

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Yi LIU

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The skin of a second specimen was found

How is the snake frozen in time?

The animal got stuck in tree sap, a sticky substance that can preserve skin, scales, fur, feathers or even whole creatures.

"It's the super glue of the fossil record," said Prof. Caldwell.

"Amber is absolutely unique ̵

1; whatever it touches is frozen within the resinous resin in time."

What does the new discovery say about these iconic creatures?

The body of the serpent is seen inside the piece of amber, consisting of 97 vertebrae and attached ribs. Interestingly, the snake's head is missing.

The bones of the creature were analyzed in a synchrotron, an extremely powerful source of X-rays, and compared to those of living snakes.

Anatomical features indicate that the snake's spine appears

Scientists say that the snake may have survived tens of thousands of years in a primitive state before becoming extinct.

Copyright
Ming BAI, Chinese Academy of Sciences

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The snake is about as large as living species such as the Asian snake

What do we know about where it lived?

Fragments of plants and insects found inside the amber confirm that the snake lived in forests.

This has not been shown for this time, as the few others found The fossil snakes found are from rocks that are connected to rivers or the sea.

Dr. Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente from the Natural History Museum of Oxford University, who is not affiliated with the research team, said that the find is "invaluable evolutionary and evolutionary data on ancient serpents".

image copyright
Lida XING, China University of Earth Sciences Beijing

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The amber containing the baby serpent

What is special about amber fossils?

Myanmar is considered a treasure trove of exciting fossil finds from the Cretaceous period 145 to 66 million years ago.

Recent finds include the tail of a feathered dinosaur, an ancient arachnid and a cargo of prehistoric frogs.

The new discovery is reported in the journal Science Advances.

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