A mid-Cretaceous embryonic-to-neonate snake in amber from Myanmar

Lida Xing, Michael W. Caldwell, Rui Chen, Randall L. Nydam, Alessandro Palci, Tiago R. Simões, Ryan C. McKellar, Michael S.Y. Lee, Ye Liu, Hongliang Shi, Kuan Wang, Ming Bai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present the first known fossilized snake embryo/neonate preserved in early Late Cretaceous (Early Cenomanian) amber from Myanmar, which at the time, was an island arc including terranes from Austral Gondwana. This unique and very tiny snake fossil is an articulated postcranial skeleton, which includes posterior precloacal, cloacal, and caudal vertebrae, and details of squamation and body shape; a second specimen preserves a fragment of shed skin interpreted as a snake. Important details of skeletal ontogeny, including the stage at which snake zygosphene-zygantral joints began to form along with the neural arch lamina, are preserved. The vertebrae show similarities to those of fossil Gondwanan snakes, suggesting a dispersal route of Gondwanan faunas to Laurasia. Finally, the new species is the first Mesozoic snake to be found in a forested environment, indicating greater ecological diversity among early snakes than previously thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaat5042
JournalScience Advances
Volume4
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 18 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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