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Lizards and snakes backdated to Permian era, lizards lost or changed limbs many times

Megachirella wachtleri fossil/MUSE – Science Museum, Trento, Italy

From at ScienceDaily:

The 240-million-year-old fossil, Megachirella wachtleri, is the most ancient ancestor of all modern lizards and snakes, known as squamates, the new study, published today in the journal Nature, shows.

The fossil, along with data from both living and extinct reptiles — which involved anatomical data drawn from CT scans and DNA — suggests the origin of squamates is even older, taking place in the late Permian period, more than 250 million years ago.

Tiago Simões, lead author and PhD student from the University of Alberta in Canada, said: “The specimen is 75 million years older than what we thought were the oldest fossil lizards in the entire world and provides valuable information for understanding the evolution of both living and extinct squamates.” Paper. (paywall) – Tiago R. Simões, Michael W. Caldwell, Mateusz Tałanda, Massimo Bernardi, Alessandro Palci, Oksana Vernygora, Federico Bernardini, Lucia Mancini, Randall L. Nydam. The origin of squamates revealed by a Middle Triassic lizard from the Italian Alps. Nature, 2018; 557 (7707): 706 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0093-3 More.

So that much time should be subtracted from the probability of Darwinian evolution.

Also: From Susan Milius at ScienceNews:

Previously, the oldest known squamate fossils dated back about to 168 million years ago. Adding M. wachtleri to the mix means that the squamates are so ancient that they arose before the mass extinction at the end of the Permian Period 252 million years ago, notes herpetologist and evolutionary biologist Jeff Streicher of the Natural History Museum in London who was not involved in the study. That cataclysm came the closest (yet) to wiping out life on Earth. How the ancestors of modern lizards and snakes made it is still a matter of debate.


From Belinda Smith at ABC: Ancient reptile fossil Megachirella pushes origin of lizards back 75 million years

All snakes and lizards descended from a four-legged creature. Somewhere along the line, snakes stopped strolling and started to slither.

But where it seems snakes lost their limbs once along the evolutionary line, lizards did it over and over again, Dr Hipsley said.

“Some have long legs, some have flippers, others have no legs at all,” she said.

These varying degrees of limb-loss makes tracing squamate evolution through anatomy alone particularly tricky.

Instead of inventing Darwinian just-so stories about “natural selection,” paleontologists might want to check for a biochemistry that promotes much greater plasticity of limb development in such vertebrates than we find in, say, birds or mammals. The question is not how it might be an advantage but how it can actually happen. Darwinism today consists largely in obscuring that distinction.

See also: Researchers: Plants colonized Earth 100 mya earlier than thought

Natural selection: Could it be the single greatest idea ever invented?


Stasis: Life goes on but evolution does not happen

Nice, fits well w/ the ID and YeC RCCF framework for understanding science where dinos (day 5 Taninim Gedolim) were adapting and devolving for 1656 years prior to the 1656 anno mundi Mabul mass extinction impacts global flood year, and how some breeds (crocs, lizards, snakes) were able to survive in the water..Pearlman
June 6, 2018
08:18 AM

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