Dino-killing asteroid sparked evolution of snakes, study suggests

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A new study has revealed that snakes evolved from a handful of species that survived the impact of a catastrophic asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs when it struck Earth.

But scientists say that snakes managed to live through the post-apocalyptic event and were able to evolve into the 3000 or more species known today.

The asteroid smashed into Earth 66 million years ago in Mexico, which resulted in destruction around the world and caused dinosaurs to become extinct.

According to scientists, a handful of snakes were able to avoid mass extinction by hiding underground and going for long periods without any food.

The disastrous asteroid set off earthquakes, tsunamis and wildfires, followed by a decade of darkness after the sun was blocked by ash clouds.

It was estimated that 76% of plant and animal life had disappeared – but snakes, alongside some mammals including frogs, fishes and birds, were spared their life.

Researchers at the University of Bath say that if the asteroid strike did not happen, the species probably wouldn't be the same as what we know them as today.

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"In this environment of the collapse of food chains, snakes are able to survive and thrive, and they are able to colonise new continents and interact with their environment in new ways," said lead researcher Dr Catherine Klein said, reports the BBC.

"It's likely that without this asteroid impact, they wouldn't be where they are today."

The research, published in Nature Communications, shows that all living snakes trace back to the species that survived the impact of the ravaging asteroid millions of years ago.

The species first evolved in Asia and following their success, they can now be found on every continent except Antarctica.

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  • Animals
  • BBC
  • Monkeys

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