Quirks & Quarks

Oldest Known Snake Fossils

150 million-year-old fossils push back the orgin of snakes by tens of millions of years
Artist's conception of two of the ancient snakes. (Julius Csotonyi)
The oldest known snake fossils have been identified by Dr. Michael Caldwell, a Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Alberta.

The fossils represent four new species and range in age from 143 to 167 million years old. Two were found in England, one in Portugal and another in Colorado in the U.S. They had previously been incorrectly identified as lizards, but the new research, particularly on the skull fossils, was able to confirm that they have characteristics unique to snakes.

These fossils push back the first record of snakes by 70 million years.

Related Links

Paper in Nature Communications
- University Of Alberta release
CBC News story