Snakes have been slithering on Earth far longer than anyone ever realized.

Scientists on Tuesday described the four oldest-known snake fossils, the most ancient of which was a 10-inch-long (25-cm) reptile called Eophis underwoodi that lived about 167 million years ago and was unearthed in a quarry near Oxford, England.

The remarkable fossils from Britain, Portugal and the United States rewrite the history of snake evolution, pushing back snake origins by tens of millions of years.