Science & Technology

After the dinosaurs were wiped out, the snakes exploded

The remarkable diversification of mammals and birds after the death of dinosaurs 66 million years ago is well known. But what happened to the snake? According to a study published on October 14thNS Open access journal PLOS Biology By Michael Grundler of the University of California, Los Angeles and Daniel Rabosky of the University of Michigan, snakes burst into similarly spectacular evolutions from unpretentious insect-eating ancestors to diverse strains, including newly available birds, fish, and small mammals. I experienced it.

The 66-million-year-old K-Pg mass extinction event marks the beginning of the Cenozoic era, with 75% of species extinct, including all non-bird dinosaurs, and a myriad of empty niches available to surviving species. opened. Like mammals and birds, snakes rapidly diversified during the Cenozoic era, reaching about 4,000 species we see today.

To better understand the pace and order of this phenomenon, researchers collated public data on the diet of 882 live snakes and used advanced mathematical models to ancestors beyond the K-Pg boundary. Reconstructed how the diet of snakes changed and diversified. They found that the latest common ancestor of living snakes was insect-eating, but after the K-Pg boundary, the snake’s diet expanded rapidly, with birds, fish and small mammals (dinosaur extinction). The vertebrate group), which was prosperous in the wake of this, is now included. ..

This study sheds light on the explosive adaptive radiation that created the diversity of modern snakes. Snake diet diversification slowed after the first irradiation, but some strains experienced a further burst of adaptive evolution. For example, when Old World ancestors colonized North and South America, colubrid snakes diversified. These findings indicate that mass extinctions and new biogeographical opportunities can spur evolutionary change, the authors say.

“Many of the amazing ecological diversity of snakes seems to be due to evolutionary explosions caused by ecological opportunities,” Grundler adds. “After the extinction of the dinosaurs, the snake’s dietary diversification exploded significantly, and we also found that similar dietary diversifications occur frequently as snakes arrive in new locations.”

After the dinosaurs were wiped out, the snakes exploded After the dinosaurs were wiped out, the snakes exploded

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