Western blind snake Leptotyphlops humilis, copyright Ashley Wahlberg.

Belongs within: Anguimorpha.
Contains: Palaeophiidae, Typhlopidae, Madtsoiidae, Tropidophiidae, Anilioidea, Macrostomata.

The Serpentes are the crown group of the snakes, a distinctive group of legless squamates (though remnant spurs are present in some species). Within the Serpentes, there is general agreement that the blind snakes or worm snakes of the Scolecophidia represent the sister group to the remainder (the Alethinophidia). The Scolecophidia have a limited gape and feed mostly on ants and termites whereas the Alethinophidia possess independent mandibles allowing a much larger gape (Vidal & Hedges 2002a). Scolecophidia are divided between three families. Members of Typhlopidae and Anomalopedidae share a transverse, movable, toothed maxilla whereas in Leptotyphlops the maxilla is immobile, longitudunal and toothless. Anomalopedidae differ from the other two scolecophidian families in possessing teeth in the lower jaw.

The Anilioidea within the Alethinophidia are fossorial like the Scolecophidia and such habits have been suggested to be basal within the snakes. However, support for this premise may be affected by the positions of extinct non-fossorial groups such as the Madtsoiidae and Similiophiidae. The latter were marine snakes from the Late Cretaceous, at least some species of which retained distinct hind limbs.

Synapomorphies (from Rieppel 1988): Intracranial course of ophthalmic division of trigeminal nerve; exoccipitals meeting dorsal to foramen magnum; opening of Jacobson's organ enclosed between septomaxilla and vomer; crista circumfenestralis enclosing juxtastapedial recess and perilymphatic sinus; epiphyses absent.

<==Serpentes [Booidea]
    |--Scolecophidia LBG12a
    |    |--+--Typhlopidae HB09
    |    |  `--Anomalopedidae HB09
    |    |       |--Liotyphlops albirostris HB09, LBG12a
    |    |       `--Helminthophis petersi HB09
    |    `--Leptotyphlops LBG12a [Leptotyphlopidae HB09]
    |         |--L. carlae HB09
    |         |--L. columbi VH02a
    |         |--L. dulcis LBG12a
    |         |--L. goudotii SP-H86
    |         |    |--L. g. goudotii SP-H86
    |         |    `--L. g. phenops (Cope 1876) [=Stenostoma phenops] SP-H86
    |         |--L. humilis HB09
    |         `--L. macrorhynus LBG12a
    `--+--Dinilysia [Dinilysiidae] LBG12a
       |    `--D. patagonica Woodward 1901 S05
       `--+--Madtsoiidae LBG12a
          `--Alethinophidia LBG12a
               |  i. s.: Cerberophis Longrich, Bhullar & Gauthier 2012 LBG12b
               |           `--*C. robustus Longrich, Bhullar & Gauthier 2012 LBG12b
               |         Coprophis Parris & Holman 1978 SH96
               |           `--C. dakotaensis Parris & Holman 1978 SH96
               |--Tropidophiidae HB09
               |--Anilioidea LBG12a
               `--+--Macrostomata LBG12a
                  `--Simoliopheoidea B93
                       |--Lapparantophiidae B93
                       |    |--Lapparantophis defrennei Hoffstetter 1960 B93
                       |    `--Pouitella Rage 1988 B93, RB03
                       |         `--P. pervetus Rage 1988 B93
                       `--Similiophiidae LBG12a
                            |  i. s.: Simoliophis rochebrunei Sauvage 1880 B93
                            |--Haasiophis terrasanctus Tchernov et al. 2000 LBG12a, S05
                            `--+--Eupodophis Rage & Escuillié 2000 LBG12a, D07
                               |    `--E. descouensi (Rage & Escuillié 2000) S05
                               `--Pachyrhachis Haas 1979 LGB12a, D07
                                    `--P. problematicus Haas 1979 S05

Serpentes incertae sedis:
  Macropisthodon rudis VH02b
  Oligodon VH02b
    |--O. octolineatus VH02b
    `--O. trilineatus M89
  Storeria VH02b
    |--S. dekayi BK03
    `--S. occipitomaculata VH02b
  Opisthotropis kikuzatoi (Okada & Takara 1958) I92
  Calliophis I92
    |--C. japonicus Günther 1868 I92
    `--C. macclellandii I92
         |--C. m. macclellandii I92
         `--C. m. iwasakii Maki 1935 I92
  Opheodrys I92
    |--O. aestivus F15
    |--O. herminae (Boettger 1895) I92
    `--O. vernalis W-CL06
  Cemophora lineri RM05
  Homalocranium C07
    |--H. marcapatae [=Oxyrhopus marcapatae] C07
    `--H. virgatum F15
  Anoplodipsas viridis R13
  Dipsadoboa unicolor R13
  Tropidocloneum lineatum B75
    |--T. l. lineatum F68
    `--T. l. annectens F68
  Diemenia textilis H98
  Haldea valeriae R56
  Palaeophiidae B93
  Ahaetulla nasutus S72
  Dendrelapsis ahaetulla S72

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B93] Benton, M. J. 1993. Reptilia. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 681–715. Chapman & Hall: London.

[BK03] Bittner, T. D., & R. B. King. 2003. Gene flow and melanism in garter snakes revisited: a comparison of molecular markers and island vs. coalescent models. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 79: 389–399.

[B75] Bowles, J. B. 1975. Distribution and biogeography of mammals of Iowa. Special Publications, The Museum, Texas Tech University 9: 1–184.

[C07] Cadle, J. E. 2007. The snake genus Sibynomorphus (Colubridae: Dipsadinae: Dipsadini) in Peru and Ecuador, with comments on the systematics of Dipsadini. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 158 (5): 183–284.

[D07] Dixon, D. 2007. The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures. Hermes House: London.

[F68] Fisher, D. R. 1968. A study of faunal resemblance using numerical taxonomy and factor analysis. Systematic Zoology 18 (4): 48–63.

[F15] Fowler, H. W. 1915. Cold-blooded vertebrates from Florida, the West Indies, Costa Rica, and eastern Brazil. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 67 (2): 244–269.

[H98] Halliday, R. B. 1998. Mites of Australia: A checklist and bibliography. CSIRO Publishing: Collingwood.

[HB09] Head, J. J., J. I. Bloch, A. K. Hastings, J. R. Bourque, E. A. Cadena, F. A. Herrera, P. D. Polly & C. A. Jaramillo. 2009. Giant boid snake from the Palaeocene neotropics reveals hotter past equatorial temperatures. Nature 457: 715–717.

[I92] Iwahashi, J. (ed.) 1992. Reddo Deeta Animaruzu: a pictorial of Japanese fauna facing extinction. JICC: Tokyo.

[LBG12a] Longrich, N. R., B.-A. S. Bhullar & J. A. Gauthier. 2012a. A transitional snake from the Late Cretaceous period of North America. Nature 488: 205–208.

[LBG12b] Longrich, N. R., B.-A. S. Bhullar & J. A. Gauthier. 2012b. Mass extinction of lizards and snakes at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 109 (52): 21396–21401.

[M89] Modigliani, E. 1889. Materiali per la fauna erpetologica dell’isola Nias. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova, Serie 2a, 7: 113–124.

[RB03] Rage, J.-C., S. Bajpai, J. G. M. Thewissen & B. N. Tiwari. 2003. Early Eocene snakes from Kutch, western India, with a review of the Palaeophiidae. Geodiversitas 25 (4): 695–716.

[R56] Reed, C. F. 1956. The herpetofauna of Harford County, Maryland. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 46 (2): 58–60.

[RM05] Reilly, S. M., R. W. Manning, C. C. Nice & M. R. J. Forstner. 2005. Systematics of isolated populations of short-tailed shrews (Soricidae: Blarina) in Texas. Journal of Mammalogy 86 (5): 887–894.

[R13] Roux, J. 1913. Les reptiles de la Nouvelle-Calédonie et des îles Loyalty. In: Sarasin, F., & J. Roux (eds) Nova Caledonia: Forschungen in Neu-Caledonian und auf den Loyalty-Inseln. A. Zoologie vol. 1 pt 2 pp. 79-160. C. W. Kreidels Verlag: Wiesbaden.

[S05] Scanlon, J. D. 2005. Cranial morphology of the Plio-Pleistocene giant madtsoiid snake Wonambi naracoortensis. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 50: 139–180.

[SP-H86] Smith, H. M., & G. Pérez-Higareda. 1986. Nomenclatural name-forms. Systematic Zoology 35 (3): 421–422.

[S72] Soderberg, P. S. 1972. Cannibalism and feeding in two snakes, Trimeresurus albolabris and Ahaetulla nasutus. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 69 (1): 192–193.

[SH96] Sullivan, R. M., & J. A. Holman. 1996. Squamata. In: Prothero, D. R., & R. J. Emry (eds) The Terrestrial Eocene–Oligocene Transition in North America pp. 354–372. Cambridge University Press.

[VH02a] Vidal, N., & S. B. Hedges. 2002a. Higher-level relationships of snakes inferred from four nuclear and mitochondrial genes. Comptes Rendus Biologies 325: 977–985.

[VH02b] Vidal, N., & S. B. Hedges. 2002b. Higher-level relationships of caenophidian snakes inferred from four nuclear and mitochondrial genes. Comptes Rendus Biologies 325: 987–995.

[W-CL06] Watkins-Colwell, G. J., T. A. Leenders, B. T. Roach, D. J. Drew, G. Dancho & J. Yuckienuz. 2006. New distribution records for amphibians and reptiles in Connecticut, with notes on the status of an introduced species. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 47 (1–2): 47–62.

Last updated: 17 June 2022.

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