Diet of Snake Frozen in Time

on March 6, 2010

BBC News: “Dinosaur-Eating Snake DiscoveredThe location of a snake found “frozen in time” reveals a component of its diet: newly hatched dinosaurs.

The snake waited and preyed on dinosaurs immediately after they hatched.

Scientists writing in PLoS Biology describe the remains of a snake fossilized among dinosaur eggs—and a baby dinosaur. The researchers believe the size of the snake’s jaw prevented it from ingesting eggs whole, so instead, the snake waited and preyed on dinosaurs immediately after they hatched.

The dinosaur that the snake was preparing to dine on was a small titanosaur, a type of sauropod that would have dwarfed the snake when fully grown. Instead, the snake, the baby titanosaur, and the unhatched eggs were all preserved by what the team suspects was a sudden natural disaster some “67 million years ago.”

“It was such a thrill to discover such a portentous moment frozen in time,” noted the Geological Survey of India’s Dhananjay Mohabey, who excavated the fossil. Scientists have named the snake Sanajeh indicus.

The fossil scene is a fascinating peek at an “ancient” world—perhaps the world as it was just before the Flood, a catastrophic natural disaster that would have instantaneously fossilized many such vignettes of “nature in action.” Without a natural disaster, why would both the snake and the young dinosaur have died simultaneously (allowing a hypothesized slow process of fossilization), and why would the other eggs have remained unhatched? Catastrophic fossilization, the model espoused by creationists, makes the most sense of findings like this one.

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