Outback snake fossil indicates lizard link

Feb 16, 2006

Australian scientists say the fossil of a snake that lived 30 million years ago has provided yet another insight into reptilian evolution.

The extraordinarily well-preserved snake skull was found in the Australian outback near the mining town of Mount Isa, more than 1,000 miles northwest of Brisbane.

Scientists named the snake Yurlunggur, an aboriginal word for the mythological "Great Rainbow Snake" of the native Australians, the journal Nature reported. Yurlunggur, according to aboriginal legend, created Australia's lakes, rivers and water holes and was also a fertility goddess.

John Scanlon, a paleontologist, told Nature the skull should help clarify the origin and early evolution of snakes from lizards, an understanding that has eluded researchers because fossilized snake skeletons are extremely fragile and rare.

Scanlon told The San Francisco Chronicle the newly discovered skull helps provide "a useful fossil record of extinct primitive snakes, illustrating their transformation from lizards."

Peter Roopnarine, a paleontologist at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, told the newspaper Scanlon's report presents "a nice bridge between the well-known lizards of today and a group of very large snakes that went extinct a long time ago."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Traditional forms of media coverage valued over advertising, study finds

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How the Eastern tiger swallowtail got 'scary'

Feb 12, 2015

As butterflies go, the Eastern tiger swallowtail is pretty scary. Their caterpillars look more like stubby snakes, complete with a fake green head, faux black and yellow eyes, and an orange, forked, fleshy ...

Recommended for you

Ancient wheat points to Stone Age trading links

18 hours ago

(AP)—Britons may have discovered a taste for bread thousands of years earlier than previously thought, thanks to trade with more advanced neighbors on the European continent.

Humour in the 13th century characterized by ridicule

21 hours ago

We tend to think of the Middle Ages as grotesque and dreary. However, 13th century elites made use of laughter quite deliberately – and it resounded most loudly when it was at someone else's expense.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.