Fossilized remains of the oldest python on the planet are being studied by the paleontologists. It lived in the territory of modern Germany about 48 million years ago. The fossilized remains were accidentally discovered in the area of an ancient lake. A new data helps scientists to find out whether pythons evolved from the continents of the Southern Hemisphere, where their relatives live to this day, or whether they came from the north, or rather from Europe.
The discovered python was named Messelopython freyi. Christer Smith, a paleontologist at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Germany, says science has never come across fossils as early as possible to help to resolve the debate about the earliest pythons in the Northern or Southern hemisphere.
The new fossils are by far the oldest on the planet and, in the course of initial research, confirmed their origin from the planet's northern hemisphere. It was possible to find an ancient python in a former shale mine, equipped on the site of an ancient lake. It was closed in the 70s of the last century. It is not the only unique find made at this location.
The paleontologists have previously found the remains of a pregnant mare, mating turtles and shimmering beetles there. The ancient python was not inferior in size to its modern relatives. It reached a length of one meter and had 275 vertebrae. The structure of its body also has a connection with boas.
This early European python lived with boas, which is considered a startling discovery given the fact that modern boas do not live near pythons. Boas can now be found in South and Central America, while pythons can be found in Africa, Asia and Australia.
The researchers managed to find out that boas lived on our planet approximately since the early Paleogene lasted from 66 to 23 million years ago. The early fossils of these organisms, especially those with preserved stomach contents, suggest that pythons and boas coexisted as invasive species.
They could constantly compete with each other for living conditions, convenient territories and for prey.