Fossils are unearthed across all over the world, but in some cases, researchers will run into a remarkable one that can offer a significant amount of valuable information. A team of archeologists discovered the preserved skull of an ancient snake that features rear limbs.
Fossils of this type are treasured because they can show us how particular creatures evolved. The fossil is 95 million years old, and it received the name of Najash rionegrina, after the name of the legged biblical snake Nahash (the Hebrew word for snake) and the Rio Negro Province in Argentina, where the fossil was found.
Earlier reports explored the traits of a marine snake that featured rear limbs. In this case, the discovery is quite exciting because the Nahash is a terrestrial snake that lived in the desert. Since layers of sediment did not compress the fossils, they have preserved very well in comparison to those of marine snakes.
New details on serpents revealed thanks to ancient snake fossils
It is known that snakes evolved from ancient lizards. The skulls of the snakes played an essential role in the evolutionary process since they show how adapted feeding techniques surfaced and improved. On a hot day in February 2013, three paleontologists were hard at work in the La Buitrera Paleontological Area, which is located in Patagonia, Argentina.
It is theorized that the first snakes evolved from a blind lizard ancestor that used to borrow, with a group of small borrowing snakes that are called scolecophidians, deemed to be the most primitive living snakes. However, the discovery infers that ancient snakes sported significant differences. While scolecophidians have small mouths, Nahash features large mouths with sharp teeth and some of the mobile skull joints that are encountered among modern snakes.
The new fossil also disproves a theory related to the disappearance of a bone called jugal, as researchers have learned that the postorbital bone was the one that was removed. A paper on the ancient snake fossils was published in a scientific journal.