1st Edition

The Origin of Snakes Morphology and the Fossil Record

By Michael Wayne Caldwell Copyright 2019
    328 Pages 20 Color & 52 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    326 Pages 20 Color & 52 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    326 Pages 20 Color & 52 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    This book presents perspectives on the past and present state of the understanding of snake origins. It reviews and critiques data and ideas from paleontology and neontology (herpetology), as well as ideas from morphological and molecular phylogenetics. The author reviews the anatomy and morphology of extant snakes. Methods are also critiqued, including those empirical and theoretical methods employed to hypothesize ancestral ecologies for snakes. The modern debate on squamate phylogeny and snake ingroup phylogeny using molecules and morphology is examined critically to provide insights on origins and evolution.

    Key Features

    • Important major evolutionary transformation in vertebrate evolution

    • Continuing historical debate in vertebrate paleontology

    • Of wide interest to a core audience of paleontologists, herpetologists, and morphologists

    • Author acknowledged as prominent contributor to debate over snake origins

    • Based on remarkable well preserved fossil specimens

    1. Ancient Snakes, Modern Snakes: What Is a Snake? 2. Ancient Snake Lizards: The Fossil Record. 3. The Anatomy of Ancient Snake Lizards. 4. Ancient Snake Lizard Paleoecology: Reading the Rocks for Habits and Habaitats. 5.Origin Myths as Opposed to Scientific Hypotheses. 6. Ancient Snake Lizard Phylogeny: Where Do Modern Snake Lizards Belong? 7. Beginnings: Where Do We Go from Here?


    Michael Caldwell received his PhD from McGill University and held postdoctoral positions at George Washington University and the Field Museum of Natural History. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences and jointly a member of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta. He was the founding President of the Canadian Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.

    "This deep dive into the evolution of the lineage we commonly refer to as snakes examines lines of evidence for how we understand the Mesozoic origins of a number of squamate reptile lineages. A central thesis is the reminder that snakes are not unique in lacking limbs, but instead the lineage of Lepidosaurs we refer to as snakes are characterized by derived and distinct sets of kinetic head morphologies." - R. Graham Reynolds, Biology, University of North Carolina