Related topics: lizards

Heatwave devastates wildlife populations in World Heritage Site

Large numbers of dugongs, sea snakes and other marine animals disappeared from the UNESCO World Heritage Site Shark Bay, Western Australia, after a heat wave devastated seagrass meadows, according to recently released research.

Researchers measure puncture performance of viper fangs

A team that studies how biological structures such as cactus spines and mantis shrimp appendages puncture living tissue has turned its attention to viper fangs. Specifically, the scientists wanted to know, what physical characteristics ...

Team in Florida captures huge python using tracking devices

Researchers in Florida using a new approach to combating a destructive invasion by enormous pythons have captured one of the biggest ever, a 17-foot-long (5.2 meters) specimen large enough to eat a deer, they said.

Sea snakes make record-setting deep dives

Sea snakes, best known from shallow tropical waters, have been recorded swimming at 250 metres in the deep-sea 'twilight zone', smashing the previous diving record of 133 metres held by sea snakes.

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Snake

Snakes are elongate legless carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Like lizards, from which they evolved, they have loosely articulated skulls and most can swallow prey much larger than their own head. In order to accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes' paired organs (such as kidneys) appear one in front of the other instead of side by side, and most have only one functional lung. Some species retain a pelvic girdle with a pair of vestigial claws on either side of the cloaca.

Living snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica. Fifteen families are currently recognized comprising 456 genera and over 2,900 species. They range in size from the tiny, 10 cm long thread snake to pythons and anacondas of up to 7.6 m (25 ft) in length. The recently discovered fossil Titanoboa was 13 m or 43 ft long. Snakes are thought to have evolved from either burrowing or aquatic lizards during the Cretaceous period (c 150 Ma). The diversity of modern snakes appeared during the Paleocene period (c 66 to 56 Ma).

Most species are non-venomous and those that have venom use it primarily to kill and subdue prey rather than for self-defense. Some possess venom potent enough to cause painful injury or death to humans.

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