Homalopsid Snake Research

Homalopsid Diversity

The colubroid snake family Homalopsidae contains 53 species in 14 genera. The family ranges from the Indus River of Pakistan eastward across India and Indochina into southern China, the Indonesian Archipelago, the Philippines, northern Australia and New Guinea, and one species occurs in Micronesia. While most are aquatic or semi-aquatic rear-fanged snakes, some lack fangs and are terrestrial. Since Bonaparte (1845) established the name Homalopsina, the composition of this taxon has been controversial. In one of the first molecular studies on snakes, Heise et al. (1995) found homalopsids to be basal to caenophidians. Kraus and Brown (1998) analyzed mitochondrial DNA and suggested homalopsids were the sister to the Southeast Asian Pareatidae. More recent molecular phylogenetic analyses established the Homalopsidae as a family distinct from the Colubridae, and supported its monophyly (e.g., Voris et al., 2002; Lawson et al., 2005; Alfaro et al., 2008). Other studies supported the Homalopsidae as the sister group to colubroids and elapoids (Kelly et al., 2003; Vidal & Hedges, 2005, 2009; Vidal et al., 2007; Wiens et al., 2008). Vidal et al. (2007) suggested the Homalopsidae be placed in the superfamily Homalopsoidea. Zaher et al. (2009) proposed the Endoglyptodonta (their clade 5) as a monophyletic group for the vipers, homalopsids, elapoids, and colubroids based on shared sulcate maxillary dentition. These recent molecular analyses suggested the crown homalopsids are of early Miocene origin (Alfaro et al., 2008) and that the family originated about 53.38 MYA (Pyron & Burbrink, 2012).

For more information see: Murphy JC, Voris HK. 2014.  A checklist and key to the homalopsid snakes (Reptilia, Squamata, Serpentes), with the description of new genera. Fieldiana Life and Earth Sciences. 2014 Sep:1-43.

RSS Serpent Research

  • Caribbean Ameivas moved to the genus Pholidoscelis September 25, 2017
    The family Teiidae is a New World clade of small to large-sized lizards that tend to be active foragers, diurnal, and omnivorous. Whiptails (genus Aspidocelis)in the USA, Racerunners (genus Cnemidophorus) in the Neotropics, the giant Tegus (Tupinmabis and Salvator) in the Neotropics are a few of the major clades. The Ameiva's are primarily Neotropical but […]
  • A frog that cannot hear its own call September 25, 2017
    Pumpkin toadlets, found in the leaf litter of Brazil's Atlantic forest, are among the smallest frogs in the world.An international team from Brazil, Denmark, and the United Kingdom, has discovered that two species of these tiny orange frogs cannot hear the sound of their own calls.This is a unique case in the animal kingdom of […]
  • A new, morphologically cryptic, leaf-nesting frog of the genus Phyllomedusa May 28, 2017
    Male holotype of Phyllomedusa chaparroi sp. nov. (MUBI 13986) Casttoviejo-Fischer and colleagues describe and name the new leaf-nesting frog, Phyllomedusa chaparroi, a medium-sized species (67.9–77.5 mm) from the Amazonian rainforests of northern Peru. Morphologically the new species is most similar to P. boliviana and P. camba, it is indistinguishable from the latter in external qualitative and quantitative traits). […]

RSS Herpetology of Trinidad and Tobago

  • Hunter Destroy Trinidad's Caroni Swamp Scarlet Ibis Population August 21, 2017
    There are two serious threats to wildlife across the globe: habitat loss and market hunting. As the human population expands towards eight billion humans hunting becomes a serious threat to the survival of many species. This is particularly true in the tropics where the productivity of edible wildlife is low.Removing large numbers of animals via […]
    John Murphy
  • Small headed Treefrog, Dendropsophus microcephalus July 9, 2017
    A small yellow frog: 12-17 mm SVL; with the canthus forming a distinct ridge, and a light line from the anterior of eye to nostril. Dorsal skin smooth, ventral skin and skin under are thighs granular. Fingers with some webbing mostly reduced to bases of digits and lateral fringe; toes moderately webbed. H.goughi has a rounded […]
    John Murphy
  • The Paradox Frog, Pseudis paradoxa (Family Hylidae) July 9, 2017
    Adults are 45-75mm in total length. Body is short and stout; eyes dorsolateral; dorsal and ventral skin; fingers free of webbing, toes heavily webbed. Dorsum green anteriorly, brown to green posteriorly; flash marks on the posterior surface of the femur. Ventral immaculate white. Pseudis paradoxa has the largest, or near largest tadpoles known when compared […]
    John Murphy