Dino eating snakes

A snake, found 67 mn yrs ago, ate baby dinos, palaeontologists said.

Last Updated: Mar 05, 2010, 09:09 AM IST

New Delhi: A python-like snake mostly found in parts of Gujarat about 67 million years ago devoured baby dinosaurs, an international team of palaeontologists have found.

The team of palaeontologists led by Jeff Wilson of the University of Michigan and Dhananjay Mohabey of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) found remains of a snake and dinosaur fossil in Dholi Dungri village, about 130 km from Ahmedabad.

The palaeontologists believe that the snakes devoured baby sauropod (lizard-footed) dinosaurs just as they entered the world from fully hatched eggs.

"The new fossils provide the first evidence, to our knowledge, of snake predation on hatchling dinosaurs and a rare example of non-dinosaurian predation on dinosaurs," the scientists reported in a study published in PLoS Biology today.

The remains of a nearly complete snake were found preserved in the nest of a sauropod dinosaur, adults of which were the largest animals known to have walked the earth.

The snake was coiled around a recently hatched egg adjacent to a hatchling sauropod. Remains of other snake individuals associated with egg clutches at the same site indicate that the snake made its living feeding on young dinosaurs.

The new snake, which was named Sanajeh indicus or "ancient-gaped one from the Indian subcontinent" because of its lizard-like gape, adds critical information that helps resolve the early diversification of snakes.