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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019 / Additional vertebral material of Thaumastophis from the early Eocene of India provides new insights on the early diversification of colubroidean snakes

Hussam Zaher, Annelise Folie, Ana B. Quadros, Rajendra S. Rana, Kishor Kumar, Kenneth D. Rose, Mohamed Fahmy and Thierry Smith (2019)

Additional vertebral material of Thaumastophis from the early Eocene of India provides new insights on the early diversification of colubroidean snakes

In: International Symposium PalEurAfrica Evolution and Paleoenvironment of Early Modern Vertebrates during the Paleogene - September 10-13, 2019, vol. Program and abstracts, pp. 58, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium.

The Ypresian Cambay Shale Formation at Vastan, Mangrol, and Tadkeshwar lignite mines in Gujarat, western India, has yielded a rich vertebrate fauna including madtsoid, palaeophiid, booid, and colubroid-like snakes. The latter are particularly abundant but their systematic affinities are difficult to resolve. Here we describe new specimens of the colubroidean-like snake Thaumastophis missiaeni, including anterior, mid-, and posterior trunk vertebrae, as well as caudal vertebrae. This species presents several characters shared with Renenutet enmerwer from the late Eocene of Egypt, suggesting exchange with North Africa probably along the southern margin of the Neotethys. Among these are the presence of parazygosphenal foramina (although not in all vertebrae), deep blade-like prezygapophyseal processes, and thick and tall neural spine. The available vertebral evidence is hardly sufficient to distinguish both taxa from each other, suggesting that these might be even congeneric taxa. However, more material is needed to test more appropriately this hypothesis. Both taxa are considered to be close to the root of the Colubroidean tree. We also revise the Eocene colubroidean fossil record in light of these new findings. This research was funded by grants from National Geographic Society, Leakey Foundation, U.S. NSF, Government of India, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Belgian Science Policy Office, and Brazilian FAPESP.
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Paleontology

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