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Smith and his colleague Agustín Scanferla from Argentina were able to identify both the snake and the lizard to the species level. Smith comments, "The fossil snake is a member of Palaeophython fischeri; the lizard belongs to Geiseltaliellus maarius, which has only been found at Messel to date."
"In the year 2009, we were able to recover a plate from the pit that shows an almost fully preserved snake," says Dr. Krister Smith of the Department for Messel Research at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt, and he continues, "And as if this was not enough, we discovered a fossilized lizard inside the snake, which in turn contained a fossilized beetle in its innards!"
Fossil food chains are extremely rarely preserved; due to the excellent level of preservation at the fossil site, leaves and grapes from the stomach of a prehistoric horse, pollen grains in a bird's intestinal tract and remains of insects in fossilized fish excrements had previously been discovered at Messel. "However, until now, we had never found a tripartite food chain -- this is a first for Messel!" exclaims Smith elatedly. To this day, only one other example of such fossil preservation has been found worldwide -- in a 280-million-year-old shark.
originally posted by: crayzeed
I think what is more astounding is the 48 million year tag. It looks like a modern snake skeleton. Now in 48 million years man is supposed to have evolved from primitive creatures, yet this snake has not evolved one iota.
Based on comparative anatomy, there is consensus that snakes descended from lizards.:11 Pythons and boas—primitive groups among modern snakes—have vestigial hind limbs: tiny, clawed digits known as anal spurs, which are used to grasp during mating.:11 The families Leptotyphlopidae and Typhlopidae also possess remnants of the pelvic girdle, appearing as horny projections when visible.
Front limbs are nonexistent in all known snakes. This is caused by the evolution of Hox genes, controlling limb morphogenesis. The axial skeleton of the snakes’ common ancestor, like most other tetrapods, had regional specializations consisting of cervical (neck), thoracic (chest), lumbar (lower back), sacral (pelvic), and caudal (tail) vertebrae. Early in snake evolution, the Hox gene expression in the axial skeleton responsible for the development of the thorax became dominant. As a result, the vertebrae anterior to the hindlimb buds (when present) all have the same thoracic-like identity (except from the atlas, axis, and 1–3 neck vertebrae). In other words, most of a snake's skeleton is an extremely extended thorax.
"Our findings turn the sequence of evolutionary events on its head," Polly added, suggesting a new theory. "It isn't that snakes have lost regions and Hox expression; it is that mammals and birds have independently gained distinct regions by augmenting the ordinary Hox expression shared by early amniotes."
originally posted by: Harte
This is the origin of the recipe for Turducken.