Comparative morphology of the dermal palate in squamate reptiles, with comments on phylogenetic implications




The differentiation of the dermal palate and of the septomaxilla in extant squamate reptiles is reviewed in terms of Lakjer's distinctions of a palaeochoanate, incomplete neochoanate, and neochoanate condition. The differentiation of the bones surrounding the mushroom body, Jacobson's organ, and the internal naris (choana) supports a number of clades including Squamata, Scleroglossa, and Autarchoglossa, with Serpentes nested within Autarchoglossa. Dermal palate morphology and the differentiation of the septomaxilla in squamates reflect the evolution of the chemosensory system in general, and the vomeronasal system in particular, and strongly contradict a recent hypothesis of squamate phylogeny based on molecular data. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 152, 131–152.