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: Super Bowl athletes are scientists at work

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Native vegetation makes a comeback on Santa Cruz Island

Sep 17, 2014

On islands, imported plants and animals can spell ecological disaster. The Aleutians, the Galápagos, the Falklands, Hawaii, and countless other archipelagoes have seen species such as rats, goats, brown ...

Recommended for you

Super Bowl athletes are scientists at work

23 hours ago

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gets called a lot of things. He calls himself the greatest cornerback in the NFL (and Seattle fans tend to agree). Sportswriters and some other players call him ...

Reintegrating extremist into society

Jan 30, 2015

The UK government's increasingly punitive response to those involved in terrorism risks undermining efforts to successfully reintegrate former extremists, according to research by the University of St Andrews.

Strategies to enhance intelligence analysis

Jan 30, 2015

If you've ever watched a thriller about undercover agents, you probably have the impression that intelligence officers are models of objectivity, pragmatism and sharp, unbiased thinking. However, in reality ...

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.