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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2021 / Additional vertebral material of Thaumastophis (Serpentes: Caenophidia) 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 (2021)

Additional vertebral material of Thaumastophis (Serpentes: Caenophidia) from the early Eocene of India provides new insights on the early diversification of colubroidean snakes

Geobios, 66-67:35-43.

The Ypresian Cambay Shale Formation at Vastan, Mangrol, and Tadkeshwar lignite mines in Gujarat, western India, has yielded a rich vertebrate fauna including madtsoiid, palaeophiid, booid, and colubroideanlike 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, middle, and posterior trunk vertebrae, as well as caudal vertebrae. The combination of primitive and derived caenophidian and colubroidean vertebral characters confirms Thaumastophis as the earliest known stem-colubriform snake while Procerophis, from the same beds, is more derived and considered to represent a crown-Colubriformes. Additionally, Thaumastophis shares with Renenutet enmerwer from the late Eocene of Egypt a unique combination of vertebral characters that suggests an exchange with North Africa was possible along the southern margin of the Neotethys. We erect the new family Thaumastophiidae for Thaumastophis and Renenutet on the basis of their shared derived vertebral morphology.
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Cenozoic, Paleogene, Eocene, Oligocene, Vastan, Tadkeshwar, India
Article history: Received 15 March 2020 Revised 2 June 2020 Accepted 8 June 2020 Available online 5 August 2020

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