On very uncommon events, a distinctive fossil is unearthed that gives a rare glimpse into the evolution of a bunch of organisms. This time, it’s the superbly preserved cranium of a historical snake with rear limbs, Najash rionegrina. Our examination of this fossil has been printed within the journal Science Advances.
This and different new fossils assist reply longstanding questions on the origins of snakes, reminiscent of how they misplaced their limbs and advanced their extremely specialized skulls. Najash rionegrina is known as after the legged biblical snake Nahash (Hebrew for snake), and the Río Negro Province in Argentina, the place the fossils had been found.
This rear-limbed fossil snake garnered quite a lot of media curiosity because it adopted earlier studies of marine fossil snakes with rear limbs. What made Najash distinctive was that it was a terrestrial snake residing in a desert, not an aquatic snake residing within the ocean.
As well as, the fossils weren’t compressed flat by the burden of overlying sediments, and they also have been preserved in three dimensions, in contrast to the marine fossil snakes. Sadly, that first description of Najash relied on a really fragmentary cranium. Students of snake evolution have been left to guess at what the top of those historic animals may need to be appeared like.
We all know from their shared anatomy that snakes advanced from lizards. We additionally know that the skulls of snakes have been key to their profitable and extremely specialized feeding diversifications. New Najash fossil skulls could be extremely informative on the sample of snake cranium evolution.
It was a sizzling day in February of 2013 when Fernando Garberoglio, then an undergraduate paleontology scholar from the Universidad de Buenos Aires, went on his first subject journey to the La Buitrera Paleontological Area in northern Patagonia, Argentina. With him had been two paleontologists: Sebastián Apesteguía, from the Universidad Maimónides, and Guillermo Rougier, from the University of Louisville.