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Friday, July 27, 2012

Coniophis: Strange new dinosaur which slithered beneath feet of T-Rex shows how reptiles lost their legs

A prehistoric reptile, half snake and half lizard, which lived 70 million years ago, has been unveiled by scientists.

The two foot-long creature, known as Coniophis, was a ‘transitional snake’ with a snake’s body and a lizard’s head.

New analysis of its fossilized remains shows snakes evolved their modern skulls on land - reigniting a long running dispute over whether they are marine or terrestrial animals.

It was discovered over a century ago embedded in rocks in mountainous Wyoming in the west of the US but palaeontologists took another look at long neglected remains to get new clues to how it looked and lived.

Dr Nick Longrich, of Yale University in Connecticut, said: ‘The snake would have been about two feet long - so it was fairly small. It was non-venomous - venomous snakes evolved after the dinosaurs went extinct.

‘But it’s possible it constricted its prey like many primitive snakes do today.

‘Coniophis lived alongside a number of familiar dinosaurs - it would have slithered beneath the feet of animals like T. rex and Triceratops. Read More