Amazing 'Nesting Doll' Fossil Reveals Bug in Lizard in Snake
48 million years ago, a snake, a lizard, and an insect would unknowingly had a very, very bad day. But their Eocene tragedy would yield one of the most spectacular fossil finds of this year: the three animals fossilized together, one inside the other.
The fossil includes an unidentified insect ingested by a Geiseltaliellus maarius stem-basilisk (lizard,) which itself ended up as dinner for a juvenile Palaeopython fischeri snake. It was found in the Messel Pit, Germany, an area “renowned for the fidelity of preservation.” Today it’s a disused quarry but while these animals still lived, Messel was a volcanic lake with deep, toxic waters, and prone to belch out deadly clouds of carbon dioxide.
It’s unclear how the snake died, but no more than two days after eating the lizard it lay dead on the lake floor encased in fine sediment which would fossilize it, the lizard inside, and the insect inside both.
The fossil is the second of its kind ever found, and it preserves both the animals and a little piece of the day’s food chain. The other one was described in 2008 by a team led by the University of Vienna’s Jürgen Kriwet — it was a fossil of a shark that ate an amphibian with a spiny fish in its stomach.
圖片附件: Palaeopython fischeri.jpg (2016-9-10 07:47 AM, 183.37 K)
The fossil contains a juvenile specimen of the snake Palaeopython fischeri and its prey. The arrow points to the tip of the snout of the lizard inside the snake. An illustration highlighting the lizard—and the insect inside it—is down below.
圖片附件: Interpretive drawing of the fossil.jpg (2016-9-10 07:47 AM, 220.4 K)
Interpretive drawing of the fossil, overlaid on a photograph. The lizard, Geiseltaliellus maarius (orange), is preserved in the stomach of the snake (white). The insect rests in the abdominal cavity of the lizard (blue).