New research has shown that modern snakes are descended from several survivors of the asteroid’s impact dinosaurs.
British scientists from the University of Bath have found that all living snakes are descended from a handful of species that survived a giant asteroid impact. He destroyed most of the dinosaurs and other living things at the end of the Cretaceous. This disaster allowed snakes to diversify into new niches previously filled by competitors. The research results are published by the journal Nature Communications.
The authors used the fossils to analyze the genetic differences between modern snakes and ancient species and reconstruct their evolution. As a result, scientists have found that all living snakes date back to a handful of species that survived a collision with an asteroid 66 million years ago, which destroyed most of the dinosaurs.
The ability of snakes to hide underground and go without food for a long time helped them survive the consequences of an asteroid impact. After that, the extinction of their competitors allowed snakes to occupy new niches, move to new habitats – to other continents.
Then the biodiversity of snakes began to increase. Modern species of snakes – including tree snakes, sea snakes, venomous vipers, and cobras, as well as huge boas and pythons – appeared only after the extinction of the dinosaurs. Also, from the fossils, scientists found that the shape of the vertebrae of these animals changed after the asteroid hit the Earth.