Friday, March 5, 2010

Dinosaur-Eating Snake!

(image from nature.com)

Dun-dun-daaaaa....

A dinosaur-eating snake? No way.

I'm picturing a giant (because things were pretty giant back then) python having an epic battle with a T-rex, constricting it to its slow and agonizing death, and then unhinging its jaw to swallow the dead dino whole.

Umm...not so much.

It appears that ancient snakes attacked dinosaur nestlings as well as invaded dino nests to swallow their eggs. A feeding strategy you see in many snake species to this day. The linked article describes an analysis of a Cretaceous period dinosaur nest which appears to have the bones of a snake along with the dinosaur eggs. This suggests that the snake was feeding on or about to feed upon the nest's contents.

As with many of the greatest discoveries in science, this discovery was made from a fossil that was briefly analyzed decades ago and then put into storage only to be rediscovered. Additional information about the snake's anatomical structure as well as new predation pressures upon various dinosaur species was also detailed.

The full story can be found in Nature News: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100302/full/news.2010.98.html
and at the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/04/science/snakes.html?ref=science

Not exactly the epic battle that I had first envisioned, but still pretty neat.
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