Arabian Flying Snake

Flying Reptile of the Middle East.

Physical description: Looks like a water snake. Has wings like a bat.

Behavior: Flies from Arabia to Egypt in the spring. Attacked by ibises.

Significant sighting: In the fourth century B.C., Herodotus claimed to have seen their skeletons in large numbers at a place called Buto between Egypt and Arabia. Possible explanations:

(1) The Desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is a large, flying grasshopper of Africa and Asia that periodically forms massive swarms hundreds of miles long, causing enormous crop damage. Though each locust is only 2.25 inches long, such a swarm would leave behind a large number of dead insects.

(2) The fossil bones of Spinosaurus, a large theropod dinosaur of the Late Cretaceous, 95 million years ago. The type specimen was first described in 1915 near Marsa Matruh, Egypt, on the Mediterranean coast. Its most striking feature is a set of dorsal spines that probably supported a sail-like membrane. Sources: Herodotus, The Histories, ed. John

Marincola (New York: Penguin, 1996), pp. 112-113 (II. 75-76); Adrienne Mayor, The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000), pp. 135-136.

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