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Scientists discover almost 35 million years old rare snake fossil from Ladakh

Scientists have reported spotting of the fossil of a Madtsoiidae snake from the molasse deposits of Ladakh Himalaya for the first time indicating their prevalence in the subcontinent for much longer time than previously thought.

Madtsoiidae is an extinct group of medium-sized to gigantic snakes, firstly appeared during the late Cretaceous and mostly distributed in the Gondwanan landmasses, although, their Cenozoic record is extremely scarce. From the fossil record, the whole group disappeared in the mid-Paleogene across most Gondwanan continents except for Australia where it survived with its last known taxon Wonambi till late Pleistocene.

Dr. Ningthoujam Premjit Singh (corresponding author), Dr. Ramesh Kumar Sehgal, and Mr. Abhishek Pratap Singh from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, India in association with Dr. Rajeev Patnaik and Mr. Wasim Abass Wazir from Panjab University Chandigarh; Dr. Navin Kumar and Mr. Piyush Uniyal from Indian Institute of Technology Ropar, and Dr. Andrej Čerňanský of Comenius University Slovakia have reported for the first time a Madtsoiidae snake from the late Oligocene ( part of the Tertiary Period in the Cenozoic Era, and lasted from about 33.7 to 23.8 million years ago) of India or the  molasse deposits of Ladakh Himalaya.

The occurrence of Madtsoiidae from the Oligocene of Ladakh indicates their continuity at least to the end of the Paleogene (geologic period and system that spans 43 million years from the end of the Cretaceous Period 66 million years ago). The research published in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology shows that the members of this group were successful in this subcontinent for much longer time than previously thought. The global climatic shifts and the prominent biotic reorganization across the Eocene-Oligocene boundary (which correlates to the European Grande Coupure), did not cause the extinction of this important group of snakes in India.

The newly described specimen is housed in the repository of Wadia Institute, an autonomous institute of Department of Science and Technology. https://doi.org/10.1080/02724634.2021.2058401

snake fossils

Figure. Madtsoiidae indet. from Ladakh Himalaya. The specimen WIMF/A 4816 in A, dorsal; B, ventral; C, D, lateral; E, anterior (with detail of subcotylar foramen); F, posterior (with detail of parazygantral foramina) views. Virtual slices of the vertebra with a special emphasis on the parazygantral foramina: G, horizontal; H, corona

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Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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