HOPE report


A Comparative Morphological Study of the Vertebrae of Snakes Occurring in Southeast Asia

Report:Tadahiro Ikeda

Date:2008/03/17 - 2008/03/26

During March 17-26 2008, I visited the Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, and investigated morphological characters of vertebrae of five species (Acrochordus granulatu, Chrysopelea ornate, Enhydris enhydris, Homalopsis buccata, Xenochrophis flavipunctatus) which are a collection of the university. Each specimen was conserved in formalin solution, and skeletal specimens of these were made in the laboratory. For each specimen, variations were investigated for 29 morphological characters by using a stereomicroscope. Based on the data of these specimens and previous work (Ikeda, 2007), the validity of vertebral features proposed to diagnose extant snake taxa by previous authors, such as the family Colubridae, was examined. As a result, vertebral features of these specimen examined in present activity were consistent with those proposed as diagnostic of each rank by previous authors. Moreover diagnostic vertebral features of genus Acrochrdus and Enhydris were also determined. However, vertebral characters of extant snakes clarified on the present activity and previous work are not enough to identify taxonomic allocations of fossil snake vertebrae excavated from the Chiang Muan because a few species among more than 200 species of Asia were only investigated. Therefore, further investigation of vertebral characters of extant snakes is needed for reliable identification for these fossils.

Chulalongkorn University

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