“What is intriguing is that Euchambersia is related to early mammals, not snakes,” the university said in a statement.
“The Euchambersia became venomous about 100 million years before snakes did.”
This finding was revealed after CT scans of two fossils of the small, dog-sized creature, which lived in the Karoo, indicated that it had anatomical features designed for venom production.
The two fossils – the only ever found – were discovered separately in 1932 and in 1966, although they were lying just metres apart on the same farm in the Eastern Cape. The advent of cutting-edge CT scanning and 3D imagery techniques has now allowed for further exploration.
‘Oldest venomous vertebrate’
“This is the first evidence of the oldest venomous vertebrate ever found, and what is even more surprising is that it is not in a species that we expected it to be,” said Dr Julien Benoit, researcher at the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research at the university.
“Today, snakes are notorious for their venomous bite, but their fossil record vanishes in the depth of geological times at about 167 million years ago, so, at 260 million years ago, the Euchambersia evolved venom more than 100 million years before the very first snake was even born.”
The Euchambersia, which lived long before the first dinosaur ever walked the earth, was discovered to have a space in its skull to accommodate a venom gland, which was present on the upper jaw and connected to the canine and mouth.
“Unlike snakes like vipers or cobras, which actively inject their prey with venom through needle-like grooves in their teeth, the Euchambersia’s venom flowed directly into its mouth,” explained the University.
Benoit said it was likely that the Euchambersia used the venom predominantly for hunting. DM
Want to watch Richard Poplak’s audition for SA’s Got Talent?
Who doesn’t? Alas, it was removed by the host site for prolific swearing*... Now that we’ve got your attention, we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk to you about the small matter of book burning and freedom of speech.
Since its release, Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State, has sparked numerous fascist-like behavior from certain members of the public (and the State). There have been planned book burnings, disrupted launches and Ace Magashule has openly called him a liar. And just to say thanks, a R10m defamation suit has been lodged against the author.
Pieter-Louis Myburgh is our latest Scorpio Investigative journalist recruit and we’re not going to let him and his crucial book be silenced. When the Cape Town launch was postponed, Maverick Insider stepped in and relocated it to a secure location so that Pieter-Louis’ revelations could be heard by the public. If we’ve learnt one thing over the past ten years it is this: when anyone tries to infringe on our constitutional rights, we have to fight back. Every day, our journalists are uncovering more details and evidence of State Capture and its various reincarnations. The rot is deep and the threats, like this recent one to freedom of speech, are real. You can support the cause by becoming an Insider and help free the speech that can make a difference.
*No video of Richard Poplak auditioning for SA’s Got Talent actually exists. Unless it does and we don’t know about it please send it through.
Britain's Scotland Yard is built atop the site of an unsolved crime scene.