Cobras, crocodiles and giant Komodo-dragon sized lizards all once lived on the Greek island of Evia, millions of years ago, researchers have found.
“We identified approximately 10 fossils and recognised a small snake, a large lizard, a cobra and a varanid that then made up the reptile fauna of the region,” paleontologist Giorgos Georgalis told the ANA.
Mr Georgalis said these were the first fossils of lizards and snakes identified around the Axios River area, where scientists had so far identified mainly mammalian fossils, such as the ape Ouranopithecus macedoniensis, lions, hyenas and antilope.
The discovery, made by a team of scientists, headed by Greek palaeontologist Giorgos Georgalis examined fossilised crocodile teeth that were found in Evia, in an 18 million year old sediment, and are said to be some of the oldest fossils ever found in Greece.
Mr Georgalis said the turtle finding is peculiar as the turtle group only inhabits the Southern Hemisphere in the present time, having been extinct from the European continent.
“There was a very warm climate in the area at that time … with a very strong watery element, while it most likely resembled a jungle,” Mr Georgalis told ANA.
The fossils of the cobras and giant lizard were previously discovered in Nea Mesimvria and later stored at the Aristotlelian University of Thessaloniki geology department. But they were only recently identified.
Reptile fossils in Greece have not been “thoroughly studied” according to Mr Georgalis, but with his new study, it would help enhance understanding of the evolution of reptiles in Europe as well as the “paleogeography and paleoclimate of the region”.