Amazing Discovery of 48 Million-Year-Old Snake With Infrared Vision

Yana Bostongirl
SnakePhoto byDavid ClodeonUnsplash

The Messel Pit is a disused quarry of immense geological and scientific importance located in Germany. Several well-preserved fossils of plants and animals dating back from the Eocene Epoch (56 to 33.9 million years ago) have been discovered in the Messel Pit including an exceptional fossil of a mysterious snake with infrared vision.

Originally named Palaeopython fischeri, this snake that belonged to a now-extinct genus of boas is said to have been able to create infrared images of its surroundings. Renamed Eoconstrictor fischeri, scientists discovered it possessed pit organs similar to boas and pythons which enabled them to create three-dimensional thermal images of their immediate environs. This ability in turn made them aware of any predators and prey in their vicinity.

Based on the fossils, the diet of Eoconstrictor fischeri consisted of crocodiles and lizards.

According to Dr. Krister Smith of the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, though it is uncommon to find complete fossils of Eoconstrictor fischer, the Messel Pit offered not one but four well-preserved specimens: “To date, four extremely well-preserved snake species could be described from the Messel Pit. With a length of approximately 50 centimeters, two of these species were relatively small; the species previously known as Palaeopython fischeri, on the other hand, could reach a length of more than two meters. While it was primarily terrestrial, it was probably also capable of climbing into trees.”

In addition to the discovery of the fossil of this mysterious snake, scientists studying the Messel Pit were also able to determine that the ecosystem that existed 48 million years ago supported a broad diversity of snakes.

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