Ancient python species found in what used to be an ancient lake
The remains of a python that lived 48 million years ago have been unearthed in what used to be an ancient lake in Germany. Researchers believe the fossils are the world’s oldest pythons on record. The fossils were found “completely preserved” in Messel Pit, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, near the southwestern city of Darmstadt.
The completely preserved fossils were just under a meter long. Today the snakes could grow up to six meters in length and are found throughout Africa, southern and southeast Asia, and Australia. Krister Smith from the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum found the snakes, with his colleague Hussam Zaher of the University in São Paulo.
Mr. Smith said the finding was significant because it indicates pythons actually evolved in Europe.” The geographic origin of pythons is still not clear,” he said.
“The discovery of a new python species in the Messel Pit is, therefore, a major leap forward in understanding these snakes’ evolutionary history.”The new species, called — Messelopython freyi — was named after paleontologist Eberhard “Dino” Frey of the State Museum of Natural History in Karlsruhe. The study was published in the scientific journal Biology Letters.