Name: Menarana
Phonetic: Me-na-ra-na.
Named By: Thomas C.‭ ‬Ladukea,‭ ‬David W.‭ ‬Krauseb,‭ ‬John D.‭ ‬Scanloncd‭ & ‬Nathan J.‭ ‬Kleyb.
Synonyms: Madtsoia laurasiae.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Squamata,‭ ‬Serpentes,‭ ‬Madtsoiidae.
Species: M.‭ ‬nosymena‭ (‬type‭)‬, ‭‬M.‭ ‬laurasiae.
Diet: Carnivore.
Size: Around‭ ‬2.4‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: Madagascar,‭ ‬Mahajanga Basin‭ ‬-‭ ‬Maevarano Formation.‭ ‬Spain,‭ ‬Castilla y Leon.
Time period: Maastrichtian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: ‬Several individuals.

       2010‭ ‬saw the description of a new genus of madtsoiid snake called Menarana.‭ ‬Although initially described from Madagascan fossils,‭ ‬the team describing the new genus also stated that a Spanish species of the Madtsoiidae type genus Madtsoia actually represented a second species.‭ ‬This led to the creation of the Menarana type species Menarana nosymena from the Madagascan fossils,‭ ‬and the creation of the second species Menarana laurasiae from Spanish fossils‭ ‬that were‭ ‬originally described as Madtsoia laurasiae.
       Menarana is an interesting genus since it displays morphological traits that suggest that in life it would create its own burrows.‭ ‬These features include vertebrae which have reduced neural spines‭ (‬making them flatter and easier to fit down a hole‭);‬ while the vertebrae near the skull have a higher degree of fusing‭ (‬allowing for rigidity against the stresses of pushing into soil‭)‬.‭ ‬The relatively large head size of Menarana however,‭ ‬around seven centimetres across,‭ ‬means that it would have required a large amount of strength to dig burrows of any significant size.‭ ‬For this reason the team describing Menarana have also suggested that these burrowing features may simply be evolutionary throwbacks of an ancestor that was more dedicated to a burrowing lifestyle.‭ ‬This speculation also exists for a related genus named Yurlunggur,‭ ‬since it has fused vertebrae but also a very blunt snout that could not be pushed into soil.
       With a length of almost two and half meters,‭ ‬Menarana was no giant and would have been lower down the food chain.‭ ‬But as a snake it would have been a predator nonetheless,‭ ‬although it would be limited to smaller animals.‭ ‬It is not inconceivable that the burrowing adaptations seen in Menarana may be the signs of a specialist hunter that followed other burrowing creatures into their burrows,‭ ‬perhaps using its own larger head to open up a burrow so that it could reach in devour the occupant within.‭ ‬Menarana could have also hunted other small animals on the ground,‭ ‬perhaps even raiding the nests of dinosaurs to snatch new hatchlings,‭ ‬as has been speculated for Sanejah,‭ ‬another genus of madtsoiid snake also described in‭ ‬2010.

Further reading
-‭ ‬A Late Cretaceous‭ (‬Maastrichtian‭) ‬snake assemblage from the Maevarano Formation,‭ ‬Mahajanga Basin,‭ ‬Madagascar,‭ ‬Thomas C.‭ ‬Ladukea,‭ ‬David W.‭ ‬Krauseb,‭ ‬John D.‭ ‬Scanloncd‭ & ‬Nathan J.‭ ‬Kleyb‭ ‬-‭ ‬2010.


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