Showing posts with label Fossil Snakes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fossil Snakes. Show all posts

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Large, Fossil Snake from Madagascar

Thomas C. Laduke and colleagues (2010) report on three species of Madagascar snakes that belong to the extinct families Madtsoiidae and Nigerophiidae. The assemblage lived in a highly season environment, with a semi-arid climate 65.5 to 70.6 million years ago.

The collection contained at least 16 different specimens of Madtsoia madagascariensis Hoffstetter, 1961. Laduke and co-workers have interpreted the fossils of this snake to be a heavy bodied, terrestrial generalist that probably resembled many of the modern day boas and pythons. Using the vertebrae to estimate the size of their largest specimen, they calculated a length of 5.1 meters, and a body diameter that was about 15 cm. Hoffstetter had previously reported a vertebrae of this species that was 50% than the one described in this study, and that bone predicts a length of about 8 meters. Associated with the snake fossils were the remains of Simosuchus clarki (a crocodyliform) and two small theropod dinosaurs which may have been in the diet of this snake. Madtsoiids are not known to have venom or specialized teeth for delivering venom, and Laduke and co-workers propose that it probably killed prey using constriction as opposed to just biting or pinioning prey.

In the same paper they also describe a new species of unusual madtsoid, Menarana nosymena, a snake estimated to be be about 2.4 meters in total length and apparently specialized for burrowing. They also describe Kelyiophis hechti, a nigerophiid.

The Citation for this article:
Laduke, T. C., D. W. Krause, J. D. Scanlon, and N. J. Kley. 2010. A Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) Snake assemblage from the Maevarano Formation, Mahajanga Basin, Madagascar. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30:109-138.