Science & Technology

All living snakes evolved from the few survivors of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs

All living snakes have evolved from a few species that survived the collision of giant asteroids that wiped out dinosaurs and most other creatures at the end of the Cretaceous. Credit: Joschua Knüppe

Studies at the Milner Evolution Center suggest that modern-day snakes evolved from a handful of ancestors who survived the asteroids that killed the dinosaurs.

New research suggests that all living snakes have evolved from a few species that survived the collision of giant asteroids that wiped out dinosaurs and most other creatures. Cretaceous.. The authors state that this catastrophic extinction event was a form of “creative destruction” that allowed snakes previously buried by competitors to diversify into new niches.

Research published in Nature CommunicationsShows that snakes, including about 4000 species of creatures, began to diversify today when extraterrestrial shocks wiped out dinosaurs and most other species on Earth.

Led by scientists at the University of Bath, this study, which includes collaborators in Bristol, Cambridge, and Germany, used fossils to analyze genetic differences between modern snakes and reconstruct snake evolution. The analysis helped identify when modern snakes evolved.

Their results show that all living snakes date back to just a handful of species that survived asteroid collisions 66 million years ago. This is the same extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs.

The authors argue that the ability of snakes to evacuate underground and travel long periods of time without food helped them survive the devastating effects of the impact. Later, the extinction of competitors, including the Cretaceous snakes and the dinosaurs themselves, allowed them to move to new niches, new habitats, and new continents.

Later, snakes began to diversify, creating strains such as venomous snakes, cobras, garter snakes, pythons, and boas, taking advantage of new habitats and new prey. The variety of modern snakes, such as brown tree snakes, sea snakes, venomous snakes and cobras, and giant contractors such as bores and pythons, first appeared after the extinction of dinosaurs.

Fossils also show changes in the shape of the snake’s vertebrae in the aftermath as a result of the extinction of the Cretaceous lineage and the emergence of new groups containing giant sea snakes up to 10 meters in length.

“It’s worth noting that they are not only surviving extinctions that wipe out many other animals, but are also innovating using their habitat in new ways within millions of years.” Said Dr. Catherine Klein, lead author and recent graduate of Bath. He is currently working at the Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany, Alangen-Nuremberg (FAU).

The study also suggests that snakes began to spread around the world during this period. The ancestors of living snakes probably lived somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere, but snakes appear to have first spread to Asia after extinction.

Dr. Nick Longrich of the Milner Evolution Center at the University of Bath and the corresponding author said: “Our research suggests that extinction functioned as a form of” creative destruction. ” Ecosystem gaps, new lifestyle and habitat experiments.

“This seems to be a general feature of evolution. It is the period immediately after the massive extinction, with the most violent, experimental and innovative evolution.

“The destruction of biodiversity creates room for new things to emerge and colonize new lands. Ultimately, life will be more diverse than it used to be.”

The study also evidences of the second major diversification event as the world transitioned from a warm “greenhouse earth” to a cold “ice house” climate, with the formation of polar ice caps and the beginning of the ice age. I found.

The patterns found in snakes suggest an important role for catastrophes (serious and rapid global environmental disruptions) in driving evolutionary change.

Reference: “Cretaceous-Paleogene Mass Extinction Snake Evolution” by Catherine G. Klein, Davide Pisani, Daniel J. Field, Rebecca Lekin, Matthew A. Wills, Nicholas R. Longrich And Dispersion ”, September 14, 2021 Nature Communications..
DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-021-25136-y



All living snakes evolved from the few survivors of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs

https://scitechdaily.com/all-living-snakes-evolved-from-a-few-survivors-of-asteroid-that-killed-the-dinosaurs/ All living snakes evolved from the few survivors of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs

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