Massive Asteroid Collision Helped Cobras, Pythons, Vipers and Boas Evolve — Here’s Why

Many fascinating theories have been proposed regarding the evolution of living things. According to one of them, a giant asteroid plunged into Earth’s atmosphere 66 million years ago, wiping out non-avian dinosaurs.

Living species such as mammals, frogs, and reptiles spread, diversified, and evolved into the many species we know today. However, new research has determined what snakes were doing during the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction.

It appears that only a few asteroid-living snakes have evolved into all of today’s serpentine species. There has been some debate among scientists about how much the mass extinction affected reptiles such as lizards and snakes. Initially, it was believed that they experienced only minor damage, but evidence of a high rate of squamate extinction was discovered around the K-Pg boundary in North America, according to the team writing about it.

Since there are few early fossils of snakes, evolutionary genetic research of snakes is based on a small number of features. According to the researchers, this may lead to heterogeneous patterns that do not reflect their true genetic history. Researchers at the University of Bath have transformed the evolutionary genetic study of snakes by combining several modeling methodologies using genetic data and fossil samples in different time frames to provide a complete view of modern snakes between then and now.

Because competitors (including other snake species) died out, survivors were free to roam and move into new environments and habitats.

Before this time period there were Cretaceous snakes because their vertebrae were different. However, after the destruction of those snakes, contemporary snakes began to emerge in all their spectacular shapes and forms.

Earth, vipers and cobras, tree and sea snakes, boas and pythons all appeared after the giant 10-kilometre (6.2 mi) asteroid. “Our results help to confirm the fundamental role of the K-Pg mass extinction in shaping the vertebrate biodiversity that occupies our planet today,” the team concluded.

The extinction of several vertebrate groups during the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) period resulted in a rapid global expansion of living mammals, birds and frogs. “This appears to be a common feature of evolution – this is the period immediately after major extinction where we see evolution at its most wild, experimental and innovative,” the team said.

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