An extraordinary set of fossils recovered from Cretaceous period rocks in western India has offered a rare glimpse into a baby dinosaur’s first—and last—day on Earth about 67 million years ago. The frightful scene, fossilized by a rapid flow of debris, reveals a titanosaur hatchling’s unlikely predator—a snake.
“The new fossils provide the first evidence, to our knowledge, of snake predation on hatchling dinosaurs and a rare example of non-dinosaurian predation on dinosaurs,” says Jeff Wilson, a paleontologist from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the lead author of the study, published March 1 in PLoS Biology. Wilson and his team describe the partial skeleton of a new 3.5-meter-long snake named Sanajeh indicus—Sanskrit for “ancient gape (mouth opening) from India”—fossilized in what appears to have been a titanosaur nest. Coiled around one of three eggs, the snake was frozen in time with its jaws facing the remains of the 50-centimeter-long hatchling.
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