Morphology of the skull of the white-nosed blindsnake, Liotyphlops albirostris (Scolecophidia: Anomalepididae)



This article presents a detailed description and illustration of the skull of Liotyphlops albirostris in comparison to the skulls of Typhlophis squamosus, Leptotyphlops dulcis, and Typhlops jamaicensis, based on high-resolution X-ray computed tomography (HRXCT). The skull of T. squamosus is illustrated and discussed in detail for the first time. A number of uniquely shared derived characters is identified that support the monophyly of the clade Anomalepididae. Anomalepidids retain some features that are plesiomorphic relative to other scolecophidians, such as the presence of a supratemporal (except in Anomalepis) and ectopterygoid. The homology of the element located posteroventral to the eyeball in anomalepidids and variably referred to as a jugal or postorbital (or a fusion of both in Anomalepis) remains unknown. Scolecophidians exhibit a highly derived skull morphology adapted to head-first burrowing. Both anomalepidids and typhlopids evolved a condition known as an “outer shell design,” but did so in different ways. Leptotyphlopids combine elements of both the anomalepidid and typhlopid snout morphologies. J. Morphol., 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.