Millions of years ago, dinosaurs roamed the Earth as both as apex predators and gentle giants. Among lizards, birds and insects, it was soon discovered that snakes also inhabited the tropical forests of Cretaceous Myanmar.
Scientists have recently discovered a baby snake perfectly conserved in ancient amber. The fossil is amazing and particularly rare, as few were found before. Michael Caldwell, biology professor at the University of Alberta has already co-authored a study for the journal of Science Advances in which the baby snake is described to the smallest details. The discovery of a piece of snakeskin shed by what is believed to be a mature snake is also presented.
The discovery is very important as it offers us more information about snakes. It is the first piece of concrete evidence which proves that snakes lived in forests since the first stages of their evolution. Previously snake fossils have only been found in desserts. They further allow scientist to explore the spreading of snakes around the world.
Both fossils were retrieved from amazingly old amber deposits that have offered many interesting discoveries in the past: dinosaur bones, baby birds and insects were found in the amber treasure.
It is also believed that some discoveries may have eluded scientists as amber is often mined by private individuals and companies who then proceed to what they find to the highest bidder, usually Chinese collectors or museums. Luda Xing, associate professor at the Beijing University of Geosciences and main writer of the paper explained how he came upon the deposit. In 2016, he was contacted by a dealer offering what was believed to be the skin of a crocodile. Upon further inspection, Xing concluded that it was in fact the skin of snake. A few months late he was contacted by another dealer and what was believed to be the fossil of a centipede proved to be the baby snake.