Fossil Snake Scan: Preliminary Results

September 10, 2010

A fossil can tell you quite a bit about the animal it preserved – but sometimes, what you can see just isn’t enough to answer the questions you have. Today, technicians at The Methodist Hospital performed a 64-point CT scan of a fossil snake from the Museum’s collection. And not just any snake, but the best preserved Caenozoic snake known in a scientific collection in the USA.

According to preliminary analysis, this snake is believed to be closely related to Boavus indelmani, a booid snake described in the late 1930′s. We – the Museum’s paleontology curatorial staff along with Hussam Zaher, professor and curator of the collections of Herpetology and Paleontology at the Museu de Zoologia of the Universidade de São Paulo – were hoping that getting a look at the underside of this unique fossil, as well as the inside of bones like the skull would shed some light on the evolutionary history of the species, and it’s relationship to booid snakes (like pythons and boas).

Check out the hospital’s video of the scan in action below:

Can’t see the video? Click Here.

It’s possible that the fossil provides a key link between snakes that use small bites to eat and higher snakes that can swallow prey whole. The scan was successful, and we’re still analyzing the data. We hope to have some additional information posted here soon.

HMNS Fossil Snake CT Scanning at Methodist Hospital
The 50 million year old snake fossil scanned today at The Methodist Hospital.
See a full set of images from the scanning process on Flickr.

More on the Snake Fossil:
Science in Action
An Evolutionary Link?
Video: 50 million year old snake gets a CT scan
Photos: Flickr set

Erin B
Authored By Erin B Blatzer

Erin is the Director of Business Development at HMNS. In a past life, she was a public relations and online marketing dynamo at HMNS.

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