A study from the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cambridge and Germany revealed that Snakes survived the impact of the meteor that extinguished the dinosaurs, Thanks to their ability to take refuge underground and go for long periods without food.
According to the most popular theory, the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period, About 66 million years agoIt was caused by a giant meteor hitting the planet.
The accident, which occurred in the Yucatan Peninsula region of Mexico, caused an explosion Extinction of at least 75% of plant and animal species on Earth.
The remaining 25% managed to resist and developed to this day, gaining space for diversification into new areas, previously occupied by its competitors.
however, The mechanisms by which this evolution occurred are still shrouded in mystery. The study of snakes by scientists from the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cambridge and Germany attempts to shed light on this.
According to specialists, that Fossils are used to analyze genetic differences and reconstruct the evolution of current snakes, All of those found alive (nearly 4,000 species) date back to the few species that survived the meteor impact.
“Not only did they survive a mass extinction, but within a few million years they were able to evolve, using their habitats in innovative ways,” said Catherine Klein of Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany.
The scientists responsible for the research referred to these species, They thrived thanks to their ability to take refuge underground and survive for long periods without food.
Moreover, the extinction of their competitors allowed them to move to new niches, new habitats, and even new continents. According to the study, before the impact, their ancestors were found only in some remote areas of the Southern Hemisphere: Only after the extinction of the dinosaurs did snakes spread all over the world.
Our research suggests that the extinction was a form of ‘creative destruction. By removing ancient species, it allowed survivors to exploit gaps in the ecosystem“Experimenting new lifestyles and habitats,” said Nick Longrich of the University of Bath in the UK.
“This appears to be an essential feature of evolution. In the periods following the Great Mass Extinction, we see evolution at its most experimental and innovative,” he added.
Finally, the researchers also found evidence of a The second event of intense diversification of snake species, at the beginning of the Pleistocene, A period also associated with the massive destruction of biodiversity that opened the way for new species to emerge and spread across the planet.
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