A second primitive marine snake: Pachyophis woodwardi from the Cretaceous of Bosnia-Herzegovina

Authors


Corresponding author: E-mail: mlee@zoology.uq.edu.au

Abstract

The fossil of a second primitive snake from Cretaceous marine sediments is identified and redescribed: Pachyophis woodwardi Nopcsa. This snake was similar to Pachyrhachis in having pachyostotic vertebrae, a slender neck and a small head. However, Pachyophis differed from Pachyrhachis in being even more aquatically adapted: the mid-dorsal vertebrae and ribs are more swollen (pachyostotic), the body was more laterally compressed, and the dentary contains more teeth. The hindlimb (well developed in Pachyrhachis) cannot be confirmed as present or absent in Pachyophis. A cladistic analysis demonstrates that Pachyophis and Pachyrhachis form a clade. This grouping, here termed the Pachyophiidae, forms the most basal group of snakes so far known and is the sister group to all other well-known snakes.

Ancillary