Fossil Of Dinosaur-eating Snake Found

Mar 19, 2010 By Deepa
Deepa Gopal's picture

A 67 million year old fossil of a snake coiled around dinosaur eggs has been found in India. This is the first evidence that these reptiles existed at the same time as dinosaurs and had egg eating habits.

Fossil discovery

This fossil was discovered 23 years ago by Dr. Mohabey in the limestone mountains of Gujarat, India. He thought all the fossil finds were those of dinosaurs. But in 2001, University of Michigan paleontologist (one who studies fossils) Jeff Wilson asked to take a second look at this fossil. While there were remnants of dinosaur bones, he also noticed the distinct markings of a snake's vertebrae. After further digging at the same site and bringing the fossil remains to Michigan for a careful cleaning process, a surprising picture emerged.

Intriguing find

The researchers believe that the snake was attacking the baby dinosaur as it was hatching. Perhaps due to an earthquake or storm, it got buried in the sandstone rocks and was preserved in time. There are two other eggs right next to the snake that are intact.

The baby dinosaur belongs to the family of herbivores called titanosaurs, which were giants that grew up to be 100 feet tall. The snake has been named Sanajeh Indicus (following the Latin naming structure) and is believed to be one of the few animals that preyed on ancient dinosaurs. This snake did not have a mouth that could open wide and hence preyed on dinosaur babies that were just hatching. It used its long body to coil around its victim.

The fossil find shows some modern animal behaviors have very old roots, Sereno said. “Snakes have been at this eating egg-thing for a hundred million years. Before birds fell prey to these things, their ancestors did.”

Here is a video that shows the picture of the fossil and the fascinating work paleontologists do to recreate history.