"The Cenozoic may have been the age of snakes," scientists write. After the dinosaurs, Earth experienced "the age of snakes."
There is still much debate about the circumstances that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The giant reptiles did not survive the impact on Earth of a large asteroid, while a mysterious crater in Ukraine, different from the main one south of the Yucatán, tells us of new causes that contributed to the elimination of the super reptiles. The apocalypse had various declinations: among them a tsunami with waves up to a mile high, whose characteristics have been investigated by scientists in a recent study. The message is clear: very often we refer to the asteroid, but the extinction of the masters who ruled the Earth for about 165 million years, is due to a number of concomitant causes.
In this article, however, we will focus on what came next: not man, who inherited the Earth from the dinosaurs, but before man. Yes, because a new study has attempted to circumscribe a sort of "age of snakes", an intermediate era between that dominated by man and that dominated by the creatures of Jurassic Park.
What happened after the disappearance of the dinosaurs
The exit of the dinosaurs paved the way for a multiplicity of birds and mammals, born as if from the ashes of their ancestors. Among the species that received the "baton" of life from T-Rex and the like were especially the snakes, which experienced an unprecedented multiplication in terms of variety and diversification of species.
The observations of scientists were collected in a new article, which appeared in the journal PLOS Biology. After the asteroid, the life of snakes was, according to the authors, completely revolutionized. This is evident from a dataset regarding reptile diets consisting of 34,060 individual observations of a total of 882 species.
The scientists' starting point was a specimen that fed only on insects, the ancestor of all snakes. Moving forward through the history of the evolution of life on Earth, the researchers were able to observe how snakes have gradually incorporated new types of meals, and therefore prey, into their diets: not just insects, but birds, fish and mammals. This means growth and diversification for the species of snakes found on Earth.
What is the Age of Snakes and how does it relate to the Cenozoic
"Mammalian diversification was so impressive that the Cenozoic is commonly referred to as the Age of Mammals," reads between the pages of the study. "With almost as many species of snakes as there are mammals, however, the Cenozoic could also be called the Age of Snakes."