Snake Evolution and Ancestors
The evolution of snakes is very fascinating. However, the fossil remains found are very low in number. They are fragile and so they often aren’t able to be well persevered. There have been some found in Africa and South America though. The oldest ones are 125 million years old.
They show evidence that they evolved from aquatic lizards. The longest fossil that has been found is 49 feet long. That is almost twice the size of the largest snakes we have today. This means that the snakes were once much larger than they are now. We don’t have answers about what occurred that resulted in them getting smaller.
Many experts believe it has to do with a lack of food in their natural habitat. Plus, when they moved to land and out of the water they didn’t have to move all the time. They were able to conserve energy as they didn’t have to move all the time. This resulted in them eating less and still having enough energy to survive. The hinged jaws also are believed to be part of evolution too so that they could consume prey that was larger than them.
It is believed that the snake did have some limbs when they lived in the water. This is speculation based on the early fossil remains, however, primitive groups among modern snakes have vestigial hind limbs. Experts say all of they may have had external ears and eyelids in the past just like lizards.
These elements such as the evolution of transparent eyelids and loss of external ears, were perhaps to help them avoid scratches to the cornea and to avoid getting dirt in their ears while they are burrowed. The color schemes of the snakes that we see today are also part of the evolution process. The colors emerged as a means of them being able to survive in their natural habitat with plenty of camouflage.
There are some species of snakes out there today that do have what could be considered very small limbs underneath. They are referred to as anal spurs. Could that be an indicator that these large spices of snakes once had legs just like lizards?
Many experts continue to try to find out the answers to the mysterious questions relating to the snake evolution. There is no double that they were able to survive in the time of dinosaurs. Yet they were able to be very adaptable and to change with the climate and the environment.
Experts are hopeful that one day they will be able to find more fossils that have survived. They have their work cut out for them though due to the fact that they haven’t been able to find many that were still intact. Hopefully technology can also be a driving force in helping us to use the information we do have to make better sense of the time line for snake evolution.
In the mean time though it can be fun to find out more about the specific evolution regarding various snake species. While they all came from the same source there are plenty of places along the way where things have branched off. You can also explore the various theories about snake evolution and what they are based upon.
Perhaps you will decide to come up with your own theory about it. That can be fun to explore and even to try to test out. You never know what you may find on your own so when you are out exploring see if you can find any snake fossils to tie it all together. There is a great deal still to find out and so we have to continue to explore the possibilities.