A recent study links snakes that have survived millions of years to the meteorite that wiped out dinosaurs.
The impact that took place 66 million years ago wiped out 76% of life on Earth.
Scientists believe that very few snake species, hidden underground during this great post-impact extinction, have successfully adapted to the post-apocalyptic world and reached modern times.
Reptiles that could survive for long periods without food spread around the world. The number of species that have evolved and diversified now exceeds 3,000.
The meteorite, which hit Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, formed a crater 200 km in diameter.
Subsequently, the world was covered in ash clouds for ten years, during which earthquakes, tsunamis and fires occurred.
This drawing by Joschua Knuppe shows how the snakes were able to survive
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“The snakes were able to survive in this environment where the food chain was destroyed and adapted to their new environment by spreading to other continents”, explains Dr Catherine Klein, head of the scientific team that carried out the research.
“Probably, without the impact of the meteorite, the snakes would not be with us today,” said Klein, a professor at the University of Bath in England.
Experts also say their ability to live without food for up to a year and hunt in the dark plays a key role in their survival.
According to research published in Nature Communications, all snake species living today are compatible with their ancestors who were alive when the meteorite fell.
THEY LIVE ON ALL CONTINENTS EXCEPT ANTARCTICA
The fossils discovered reveal that the snakes that lived during this time were legless and had flexible jaws, similar to those of today.
The species that make up modern snake diversity, such as arboreal and marine snakes, cobras, boa constrictors, and pythons, all appeared after the meteor apocalypse.
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Scientists believe that such massive extinctions have only happened a few times in the history of the world.
According to research conducted at the University of Bath, this post-apocalyptic period, during which mammals adapted and survived, was the “most experimental and innovative” period of evolution.
Snake species live on all continents of the Earth except Antarctica. There are thousands of species ranging from oceans to deserts, ranging from a few centimeters to 6 meters.