Despite the richness of the Eocene era in life forms, we do not know much about some of the ancestors of living creatures in Africa, due to the scarcity of fossils, especially squamous ones, an animal rank belonging to the reptile class, and it includes two groups: lizards and snakes.
Recently, the Fayoum Oasis has become a huge and inexhaustible mine of fossils, as it is one of the most important Eocene vertebrate assemblies on the brown continent, where fossils of ancient whales and fish were discovered.
Today, the oasis reveals new secrets about scaly, after fossils of the largest legless lizard in history were recently found, as well as seven vertebrae dating back to colobroid snakes (ancestors of modern snakes).
A few days ago, the Salam Lab team of Mansoura University published a research paper in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology documenting these discoveries.
The story of the find began in 2017, when the Salam Lab team found the fossils on an expedition north of Lake Qarun in the Fayoum depression; Where fossils pile up on top of each other in very rare richness, says Qaida Marwa Al-Haris, principal investigator and a member of the Mansoura University Center for Vertebrate Fossils.
And the guard added to “Sky News Arabia”, “After finding these samples, I underwent a search for two years until we knew what these samples were and to which group of squamous cells these fossils belonged to, which we were able to know in the end that we are in front of the great ancestor of modern snakes, And the largest legless lizard ever discovered.
Al-Haris, a researcher specializing in comparative anatomy, explains that the team found a stem vertebra of a legless lizard, and the size of this vertebra is about 4 millimeters, which led researchers to know that this lizard is the largest in history, because the size of the vertebrae in the largest lizard known today. It only reaches about 2 millimeters.
The guard says that wormy lizards are legless, covered with scales in the form of circular rings, and they live underground most of the time, and they have a very primitive eye, and they may be close to blindness, and they feed on insects that live on the ground.
As for the snake fossil, 6 vertebrae were found, the size of the vertebra ranged between 2 millimeters and 1 centimeters, and this type is known as the colobroid snakes, and it is the great ancestor of modern snakes, as about 80 percent of the snakes that live among us today, such as: cobras and tares, descend from it.
There is new evidence about the migrations of reptiles between continents pushed by the research paper prepared by the guard and his companions from the Salam Lab team led by the well-known paleontologist, Hisham Salam, as the study shows that one of the trunk vertebrae of the colobroid snake is similar to that found in the early Eocene era in India about about 52 million years.
And the Egyptian researcher continues, saying: “At this time of the Eocene era, there was no land linking the two continents of Asia and Africa, as the Al-Tisi Sea was the separator between the two continents, so there is a hypothesis that the means of mammalian migrations between the two continents is due to the separation of a floating forest from the continent of Asia, which was later contacted Africa, and our study proves that reptiles also migrated in the same way.
Not only did the Egyptian researchers add new knowledge about reptiles, but they corrected false information about the history of the Namibia site, in which samples of the same group of snakes were found, and it was dated to date back to about 41 million years, but with the study of these snakes, Egyptian researchers revealed that they are more An evolution from the samples found in Egypt.
The guard explains: “It is common knowledge in paleontology that the older the age, the more primitive the anatomical features are. Therefore, based on the fact that the anatomical characteristics of the snakes of the Namibia site are more developed than their counterparts in the Fayoum Oasis, the age of the Namibia site, which is currently estimated at 41 million years, is not True, the closest estimate to be accurate is 23 million years.”
At the conclusion of her interview with “Sky News Arabia”, the guard said that the Salam Lab team is currently planning to find new fossils of squash, with the aim of forming a complete picture of these newly discovered species.