Boidae—Boas // Colubridae—Harmless Egg-laying Snakes // Crotalidae—Pitvipers // Dipsadidae—Slender Rear-fanged Snakes // Leptotyphlopidae—Slender Blind Snakes // Natricidae—Harmless Live-bearing Snakes
The snakes form a large, highly successful, widely distributed group of carnivorous reptiles. Snakes are limbless, have a greatly increased number of vertebrae, and lack eyelids (the eye is covered by a clear scale). A number of species are venomous.
The vertebrae are easily separable from those of lizards by an extra set of articulations. Specialists in identification of snakes are said to be able to identify many down to the species level on the basis of vertebral characters. However, a contrary view is given by Czaplewski and Mead et al. (1999:11): "Without invoking modern geographic distribution of taxa as a criterion for at least limiting the species used for comparative purposes, we consider accurate diagnosis of isolated fossil vertebrae to species (and in many cases to genus) an unobtainable goal at present."
Last Update: 19 Nov 2012