Snakes Unknown

The Snakes (Suborder Serpentes) are an extremely specialized group of reptiles characterized by elongated bodies, 125-400 supple vertebrae, no limbs, no eyelids, flexible skulls that allow for independent jaw movement, stretch-able skin, potent digestive juices, forked tongues that act as sensitive chemoreceptor systems, and powerful axial muscles attached to ventral scutes that provide flexible forward and lateral movement. Some of the more familiar snake families are Blindsnakes (Typhlopidae), Boas (Boidae), Pythons (Pythonidae), Dwarf boas (Tropi-dophiidae), Vipers (Viperidae), Stiletto snakes (Atractaspididae), Ratsnakes and their kin (Col-ubridae), Sea snakes (Hydrophiidae), and Cobras and their relatives (Elapidae).

The earliest known terrestrial snake, Lappar-entophis, appeared in Algeria in the Early Cretaceous, 130 million years ago; the earliest marine snake was Pachyrhachis, a serpent with tiny hind legs from the Late Cretaceous, 97 million years ago, that was discovered in Israel in 1997. There are two competing theories about what kind of reptiles the snakes evolved from—small, burrowing lizards or aquatic, varanoid reptiles (the group containing both monitors and mosasaurs)—but the evidence remains ambigu ous. Snakes flourished for the past 65 million years in the Cenozoic, developing such specialties as poison glands and vertebral neural spines.

The greatest official length for a Reticulated python (Python reticulatus) is 32 feet 9.75 inches, recorded in 1912 on the north coast of Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is the only species that regularly exceeds 20 feet in length. The Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) is also suspected of reaching lengths greater than 30 feet (see GIANT ANACONDA), but sizes have often been exaggerated or poorly estimated. Gigantophis, an Egyptian snake from the Middle Eocene, 45 million years ago, grew to 33-37 feet long.

Unknown snakes are of interest to cryptozo-ology if they are of unusual size or possess odd physical attributes or behaviors. The thirty-four snakes in this section are either gigantic (GIANT Anaconda, Pumina), unusually big (Giant Pennsylvania Snake, Colovia), hairy (Algerian Hairy Viper), extremely venomous (Lum-MIS'S PICHU-CUATE), unusually vocal (Caribbean Crowing Snake), crested (Muh-LAMBELA), horse- or cat-headed (SOUTH African Horse-Headed Snake), able to jump (Poskok), or leggy (Waigeo Six-Legged SNAKE). Others are misidentifications that have entered the literature (BOTHRODON PRIDII, Paraguayan Barking Snake). See also Flying Reptiles.

Mystery Snakes

Africa

Algerian Hairy Viper; Apris; Crowing Crested Cobra; Muhlambela; Pumina; Sa-haran Crested Snake; South African Horse-Headed Snake

Asia

Black Sea Snake; Bu-Rin; Giant Python; Mongolian Death Worm; Naga; Primor'ye Giant Snake; Tzuchinoko

Australasia

Ganba; Mindi; Parker's Snake; Rainbow SERPENT; WAIGEO SlX-LEGGED SNAKE

Europe

Beast of Bodalog; Beithir; Cat-Headed

Snake; Colovia; Mediterranean Giant Snake; Poskok

North America

Caribbean Crowing Snake; Giant North American Snake; Giant Pennsylvania Snake; Lummis's Pichu-Cuate; Peninsula Python

South America

Bothrodon pridii; Giant Anaconda; Paraguayan Barking Snake; Sachamama

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