Portal:Snakes

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Snakes are elongated, limbless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes /sɜːrˈpɛntz/. Like all other squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Many species of snakes have skulls with several more joints than their lizard ancestors, enabling them to swallow prey much larger than their heads with their highly mobile jaws. 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. Lizards have evolved elongate bodies without limbs or with greatly reduced limbs about twenty-five times independently via convergent evolution, leading to many lineages of legless lizards. These resemble snakes, but several common groups of legless lizards have eyelids and external ears, which snakes lack, although this rule is not universal (see Amphisbaenia, Dibamidae, and Pygopodidae).

Living snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica, and on most smaller land masses; exceptions include some large islands, such as Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, the Hawaiian archipelago, and the islands of New Zealand, as well as many small islands of the Atlantic and central Pacific oceans. Additionally, sea snakes are widespread throughout the Indian and Pacific oceans. More than twenty families are currently recognized, comprising about 520 genera and about 3,900 species. They range in size from the tiny, 10.4 cm-long (4.1 in) Barbados threadsnake to the reticulated python of 6.95 meters (22.8 ft) in length. The fossil species Titanoboa cerrejonensis was 12.8 meters (42 ft) long. Snakes are thought to have evolved from either burrowing or aquatic lizards, perhaps during the Jurassic period, with the earliest known fossils dating to between 143 and 167  Ma ago. The diversity of modern snakes appeared during the Paleocene epoch ( c. 66 to 56 Ma ago, after the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event). The oldest preserved descriptions of snakes can be found in the Brooklyn Papyrus. ( Full article...)

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Green mamba 3.jpg

The eastern green mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps) is a highly venomous snake species of the mamba genus Dendroaspis native to the coastal regions of southern East Africa. Described by Scottish surgeon and zoologist Andrew Smith in 1849, it has a slender build with bright green upperparts and yellow-green underparts. The adult female averages around 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) in length, and the male is slightly smaller.

A shy and elusive species, the eastern green mamba is rarely seen. This elusiveness is usually attributed to its green colouration, which blends with its environment, and its arboreal lifestyle. It has also been observed to use "sit-and-wait" or ambush predation, like many vipers, unlike the active foraging style typical of other elapid snakes. It preys on birds, eggs, bats, and rodents such as mice, rats, and gerbils. ( Full article...)

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A plains gartersnake

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The Asian vine snake Ahaetulla prasina has a wide distribution in Asia.
Photo credit: Thai National Parks

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