Sauria—Lizards // Serpentes—Snakes
The higher-level nomenclature within the Squamata, as with numerous other groups, is still in flux. The subordinal level taxonomy followed here is conservative, with the suborders Sauria and Serpentes serving to denote the lizards and snakes, respectively.
Lizard and snake diversity tends to be greatest in warm climates that possess a plethora of ecological niches; diversity falls off in simpler ecological conditions and as cooler climates are encountered to the north or higher elevations.
Because of the great number of vertebrae (several hundred) of snakes, the propensity of many to hunt and hibernate underground, and the seeking of protection against heat in caves and crevices, snakes tend to be strongly represented in cave faunas, often in large numbers. Lizards, on the other hand, are less likely to venture far beyond the entrance area of caves. Both often are deposited by predators in caves, however. Recovery from open sites tends to be uncommon unless extensive washing of fossiliferous sediments is carried out.
See "Taxa Introduction" for comments that suggest that identifications to species are untrustworthy.
Last Update: 2 Jan 2010