‘Creative Destruction’: Modern Snakes Could Have Evolved From Asteroid Survivors Who Killed Dinosaurs.
A team of experts discovered that today’s snakes may have developed from the few species that escaped the dinosaur-killing asteroid.
According to the researchers of the new study, which was published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, when the dinosaur-killing asteroid impacted the Earth millions of years ago, multiple vertebrate groups died. Apart from mass extinction, the impact’s aftermath resulted in “rapid diversification,” as some species were able to thrive after their competitors perished.
Researchers from the University of Bath, along with collaborators from Germany, Bristol, and Cambridge, examined the consequences of the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction on snake evolution, which records reveal occurred around the time of the Chicxulub bolide impact.
To “reconstruct snake evolution,” they looked at fossils and the genetic differences between modern snakes. They were able to identify when modern snakes evolved this way, according to a press statement from the University of Bath.
According to the findings, all live snakes today are descended from a “handful” of species that survived the global extinction catastrophe.
The researchers concluded, “We uncover a probable diversification among crown snakes associated with the K-Pg mass extinction, headed by the successful colonization of Asia by the important extant clade Afrophidia.”
According to the university, snakes’ capacity to stay underground for lengthy periods of time without sustenance may have helped them survive. With their competitors gone, they were able to move to other, more remote environments and develop new lineages, including vipers, pythons, and cobras.
In a news release, lead author Catherine Klein, a University of Bath graduate who now works at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, said, “It’s remarkable because not only are they surviving an extinction that wipes out so many other animals, but within a few million years they are innovating, using their habitats in new ways.”
contributing author Nick Longrich of the University of Bath stated, “Our research implies that extinction operated as a type of ‘creative destruction’ – by wiping out old species, it allowed survivors to exploit the holes in the ecosystem, experimenting with novel lifestyles and habitats.” “Biodiversity loss allows opportunity for new species to originate and colonize new landmasses. Life eventually becomes even more diversified than it was before.”
The present research demonstrates how major extinctions shaped the planet’s biodiversity.
“(O)ur findings support the theory. Brief News from Washington Newsday.