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RE: Sauropod-eating snakes



Brian Choo <bchoo@museum.vic.gov.au> wrote:

 
> Wasn't too disappointed as the accompanying William Service
> narration describes the engagement as an unsuccesful attack
> that seems plausible:  the serpent instinctively
> strikes the young sauropod and coils around it.  It
> constricts but fails to suffocate the prey item, then
> finally relinquishes its grip and retreats.


But would any Cretaceous snake coil itself around live prey to suffocate it, 
prior to swallowing?  Madtsoiids like _Sanajeh_ were narrow-gaped snakes.  The 
authors of the _Sanajeh_ paper suggest that titanosaur eggs had to be crushed 
by constriction before swallowing.  I assume that small prey items (like 
titanosaur hatchlings!) were eaten alive.  AFAIK, there are no known wide-gaped 
(macrostomatous) snakes in the Cretaceous.  So no Cretaceous snakes were 
capable of swallowing very large prey, in the manner of a boa constrictor (for 
example). 
 

The phylogeny in the _Sanajeh_ paper recovers the pachyophiids as sister taxon 
to the macrostomatous snakes.  This would drag the origin of the wide-gaped 
snakes back to the mid-Cretaceous, suggesting that macrostomatous snakes were 
around in the later Cretaceous.  But the phylogenetic relationships of 
pachyophiids are controversial.  Pachyophiids like _Pachyrhachis_ retain fairly 
well-developed hindlimbs, and some phylogenetic analyses place them outside the 
crown-group, as very primitive snakes.


I wish I still had my Service/Stout book.  :-(  


Cheers

Tim