Tropidophiidae

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Tropidophiidae
Cuban Giant Trope (Tropidophis melanurus) (8577519420).jpg
Tropidophis melanurus
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Clade: Amerophidia
Family: Tropidophiidae
Brongersma, 1951
Synonyms
  • Ungualiidae Cope, 1894
  • Ungaliidae Cope, 1900
  • Tropidophinae Brongersma, 1951
  • Tropidophidae Underwood, 1976
  • Tropidophiidae Duellman, 1979
  • Tropidopheidae McDowell, 1987
  • Ungaliopheinae McDowell, 1987
  • Tropidopheinae — McDowell, 1987
  • Tropidopheidae
    H.M. Smith & Preston, 1987
  • Tropidopheoidae
    — H.M. Smith & Chiszar, 1992 [1]

The Tropidophiidae, common name dwarf boas or thunder snakes, [2] are a family of nonvenomous snakes found from Mexico and the West Indies south to southeastern Brazil. These are small to medium-sized fossorial snakes, some with beautiful and striking color patterns. Currently, two living genera, containing 34 species, are recognized. [3] Two other genera ( Ungaliophis and Exiliboa ) were once considered to be tropidophiids but are now known to be more closely related to boids, and are classified in the subfamily Ungaliophiinae. There are a relatively large number of fossil snakes that have been described as tropidophiids (because their vertebrae are easy to identify), but which of these are more closely related to Tropidophis and Trachyboa and which are more closely related to Ungaliophis and Exiliboa is unknown.

Contents

Description

This family is confined to the neotropics, mainly in Hispaniola, Jamaica, and the Cayman Islands, with the greatest diversity being in Cuba, where new species are being discovered. These snakes are relatively small, averaging to about 30–60 cm (12–24 in) in total length (including tail).

Rieppelophis ermannorum extinct pygmy boa Messelophis ermannorum 02.jpg
Rieppelophis ermannorum extinct pygmy boa

Behavior

Most species spend their day burrowed underground or under vegetation, surfacing only at night or when it rains. Some species are arboreal and are often seen hiding in bromeliads in trees.

Color change

The dwarf boas can change color from light (when they are active at night) to dark (inactive in the day). This color change is brought about by the movement of dark pigment granules.

Defensive behavior

When threatened, tropidophiids coil up into a tight ball. A more peculiar defensive behavior is their ability to bleed voluntarily from the eyes, mouth, and nostrils. [4]

Distribution and habitat

They are found from southern Mexico and Central America, south to northwestern South America in Colombia, (Amazonian) Ecuador, and Peru, as well as in northwestern and southeastern Brazil, and also in the West Indies. [1]

Fossils

Fossils of ten extinct species in five genera [5] from the Paleocene, Eocene, and Oligocene of Europe, Africa, & North and South America have been assigned to the Tropidophiidae, although all of them are probably actually either ungaliophiines or stem afrophidians. Two genera, Falseryx and Rottophis, both from the Oligocene of western Europe, have some similarities with living tropidophiids [6] as well as with ungaliophiines, but for the most part their skulls are poorly preserved, leaving paleontologists to work on just their vertebrae. Paleogene erycines dominated the snake fauna of North America prior to the Miocene explosion of colubroids, but as far as we know all of these species were much more closely related to modern rosy and rubber boas than they were to tropidophiids. The only unequivocal tropidophiid fossils are from the Pleistocene of Florida [7] and the Bahamas. [8]

Genera

Genus [2] Taxon author [1] Species [2] Common nameGeographic range [1]
Trachyboa W. Peters, 18602 Panama, Pacific Colombia and Ecuador.
Tropidophis T Bibron, 184017The West Indies, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador.

T Type genus. [1]

Cited references

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T (1999). Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN   1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN   1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. 1 2 3 "Tropidophiidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System . Retrieved 17 August 2007.
  3. "Tropidophiidae". The Reptile Database. Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  4. Hoefer, Sebastian; Mills, Sophie; Robinson, Nathan J. (2019). "Autohaemorrhaging in a Bahamian pygmy boa, Tropidophis curtus barbouri". The Herpetological Bulletin (150). doi:10.33256/hb150.3940.
  5. "Subfamily Tropidophiinae Cope 1894 (dwarf boa)". Fossilworks. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  6. Szyndlar Z; Smith R; Rage J-C (2008). "A new dwarf boa (Serpentes, Booidea,'Tropidophiidae') from the Early Oligocene of Belgium: a case of the isolation of Western European snake faunas". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 152 (2): 393–406. doi: 10.1111/j.1096-3642.2007.00357.x .
  7. Meylan PA (1996). "Pleistocene amphibians and reptiles from the Leisey Shell Pit, Hillsborough County, Florida" (PDF). Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History. 37: 273–297. (in English, with an abstract in Spanish).
  8. Pregill GK (1982). "Fossil amphibians and reptiles from New Providence Island, Bahamas". In Olson SL (ed.). Fossil Vertebrates from the Bahamas. Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology. 48. Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution Press. pp. 8–21. doi:10.5479/si.00810266.48.1.

Related Research Articles

Boidae Family of snakes

The Boidae, commonly known as boas or boids, are a family of nonvenomous snakes primarily found in the Americas, as well as Africa, Europe, Asia, and some Pacific Islands. Boas include some of the world's largest snakes, with the green anaconda of South America being the heaviest and second-longest snake known; in general, adults are medium to large in size, with females usually larger than the males. Five subfamilies, comprising 12 genera and 49 species, are currently recognized.

<i>Tropidophis melanurus</i> Species of snake

Tropidophis melanurus, commonly known as dusky dwarf boa, Cuban wood snake, or Cuban giant dwarf boa, is a non-venomous dwarf boa species found mainly in Cuba. Currently, there are three subspecies recognized, including the typical form described here.

<i>Tropidophis</i> Genus of snakes

Tropidophis, common name wood snakes or West Indian wood snakes, is a genus of dwarf boas endemic to the West Indies and South America. Currently, 17 species are recognized.

Tropidophis fuscus is a non-venomous dwarf boa species found in Cuba. No subspecies are currently recognized.

Tropidophis morenoi, commonly known as the zebra dwarf boa, is a species of snake in the family Tropidophiidae. The species is endemic to the West Indies.

Tropidophis greenwayi is a nonvenomous dwarf boa species endemic to the Caicos Islands. Two subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.

Exiliboa is a monotypic genus created for the non-venomous dwarf boa species, Exiliboa placata, which is endemic to southern Mexico. No subspecies are currently recognized.

The Bahamian pygmy boa constrictor, Inagua trope, or Bahama wood snake is a species of nonvenomous snake in the family Tropidophiidae. The species is endemic to the Great Inagua Island, the Bahamas.

Tropidophis battersbyi, also known commonly as Battersby's dwarf boa and the Ecuadorian dwarf boa, is a species of snake in the family Tropidophiidae. The species is endemic to Ecuador.

<i>Tropidophis feicki</i> Species of snake

Tropidophis feicki, also known as the broad-banded dwarf boa or Feick's dwarf boa, is a species of snake in the family Tropidophiidae. The species is endemic to Cuba.

Tropidophis haetianus, the Haitian dwarf boa, is a species of snake in the family Tropidophiidae. It is endemic to Hispaniola in the West Indies.

Tropidophis nigriventis, or the black-bellied dwarf boa, is a species of snake in the family Tropidophiidae. The species is endemic to Cuba.

Tropidophis pardalis, or the leopard dwarf boa or spotted brown trope, is a species of snake in the family Tropidophiidae. It is endemic to Cuba.

Tropidophis pilsbryi, commonly known as Pilsbry's dwarf boa or the Cuban white-necked dwarf boa, is a species of snake in the family Tropidophiidae. The species is endemic to Cuba.

<i>Tropidophis semicinctus</i> Species of snake

Tropidophis semicinctus, or the Yellow-banded dwarf boa, is a species of snake in the family Tropidophiidae. It is endemic to Cuba.

<i>Tropidophis taczanowskyi</i> Species of snake

Tropidophis taczanowskyi, also known commonly as Taczanowski's dwarf boa, is a species of snake in the family Tropidophiidae. The species is native to northern South America.

Tropidophis wrighti, commonly known as the gracile banded dwarf boa, the gracile banded trope, and Wright's dwarf boa, is a species of snake in the family Tropidophiidae. The species is endemic to Cuba.

Ungaliophiinae Subfamily of snakes

Ungaliophiinae is a subfamily of booid snakes containing two genera, Ungaliophis and Exiliboa. They are small constrictors that are found in Central and South America, from southern Mexico to Colombia. They eat mostly lizards and frogs and are poorly studied.

Amerophidia Clade of snakes

The Amerophidia, also known as amerophidian snakes, are a superfamily of snakes that contains two families: Aniliidae and the boa-like Tropidophiidae.