Today there are more than 3400 species of snakes living on every continent except Antarctica. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in a wide variety of habitats. But how did these amazing creatures come to be? When did snakes first evolve and what were they like?
The fossil record provides some clues about the early history of snakes. The first known snake fossil is from the Lower Carboniferous period which lasted from 359 to 299 million years ago. This fossil which was found in Scotland is of a four-limbed creature called Etaliation myops.
Etaliation myops was a primitive snake and would have looked very different from the snakes we see today. It probably had a pair of small limbs which it used for crawling or burrowing. Its body would have been covered in scales and it would have had a long snake-like tail.
It is thought that snakes evolved from lizards which are their closest living relatives. The first lizards appeared during the Late Carboniferous period around 300 million years ago. These early lizards were small insect-eating creatures that lived in trees.
Over time some of these lizards began to develop features that made them better suited for life on the ground. They lost their limbs and their bodies became longer and more slender. These changes would have made them better at moving through grass and underbrush.
The first true snakes appeared during the Cretaceous period around 145 million years ago. These early snakes were similar to modern snakes in many ways. They had long slender bodies and were limbless. They also had flexible jaws which allowed them to swallow prey whole.
Today snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and can be found in a wide variety of habitats. Snakes are a successful and amazing group of creatures and it is fascinating to think about how they came to be.
When did snakes first evolve?
Answer 1: Snakes first evolved during the Cretaceous period between 143 and 66 million years ago.
How did snakes evolve?
Answer 2: Snakes evolved from lizards and share a common ancestor with these reptiles.
What are the characteristics of snakes that evolved?
Answer 3: Snakes evolved to have long slender bodies and they lost their limbs during the course of their evolution.
Why did snakes lose their limbs?
Answer 4: It is thought that snakes lost their limbs because it was advantageous for them to do so in terms of their mode of locomotion and their ability to capture prey.
How do snakes move?
Answer 5: Snakes move by using their muscles to push against the ground and they can also climb and swim.
What are the benefits of snakes having long slender bodies?
Answer 6: Long slender bodies help snakes to move quickly and to maneuver in tight spaces.
Do all snakes have venom?
Answer 7: No not all snakes are venomous.
How do venomous snakes deliver their venom?
Answer 8: Venomous snakes have fangs that they use to inject their venom into their prey.
What are the consequences of being bitten by a venomous snake?
Answer 9: If a person is bitten by a venomous snake the venom can cause swelling pain and tissue damage.
In some cases it can also lead to death.
Are there any benefits to being bitten by a venomous snake?
Answer 10: Venomous snake bites can sometimes be used to treat certain medical conditions such as pain and blood clotting disorders.
What is the difference between a venomous snake and a poisonous snake?
Answer 11: A venomous snake is one that has venom and can deliver it through a bite.
A poisonous snake is one that has toxins in its body that can be harmful if ingested but it cannot deliver them through a bite.
What are some of the most venomous snakes in the world?
Answer 12: Some of the most venomous snakes in the world include the king cobra the black mamba and the saw-scaled viper.
What are some of the deadliest snakes in the world?
Answer 13: Some of the deadliest snakes in the world include the king cobra the black mamba and the saw-scaled viper.
How can you tell if a snake is venomous?
Answer 14: There is no sure way to tell if a snake is venomous but there are some characteristics that may be indicative such as the presence of fangs and venom glands.
What should you do if you are bitten by a snake?
Answer 15: If you are bitten by a snake you should seek medical attention immediately even if you do not think the snake is venomous.