Project 2170: H. Yi,M. A. Norell. 2015. The burrowing origin of modern snakes. Science Advances. 1 (e1500743):1-5.
Specimen: † Dinilysia patagonica (MACN/RN:1014)


Modern snakes probably originated as habitat specialists, but it controversial unclear whether they were ancestrally terrestrial burrowers or marine swimmers. We used x-ray virtual models of the inner ear to predict the habit of Dinilysia patagonica, a stem snake closely related to the origin of modern snakes. Previous work has shown that modern snakes perceive substrate vibrations via their inner ear. Our data show that D. patagonica and modern burrowing squamates share a unique spherical vestibule in the inner ear, as compared with swimmers and habitat generalists. We built predictive models for snake habit based on their vestibular shape, which estimated D. patagonica and the hypothetical ancestor of crown snakes as burrowers with high probabilities. This study provides an extensive comparative data set to test fossoriality quantitatively in stem snakes, and it shows that burrowing was predominant in the lineages leading to modern crown snakes.

Read the article »

Article DOI: DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500743

Project DOI: 10.7934/P2170,
This project contains
  • 44 Media
  • 2 Documents
  • 44 Taxa
  • 44 Specimens
Total size of project's media files: 2048 MB

Download Project SDD File
Currently Viewing:
MorphoBank Project 2170
  • Creation Date:
    14 May 2015
  • Publication Date:
    18 December 2015
  • Project views: 31233

    This research
    supported by


    member name taxa specimens media media
    Hong-yu Yi
    Project Administrator
    Last logged in 12/18/15
    MorphoBank Curator
    Full membership
    Last logged in 02/08/16

    Project has no matrices defined.

    Project views

    type number of views Individual items viewed (where applicable)
    Total project views31233
    Project overview1774
    Documents list933
    Specimen list12254
    Media views12377Media search (2002 views); M406390 (289 views); M406482 (224 views); M406483 (310 views); M406484 (232 views); M406485 (242 views); M406486 (239 views); M406487 (229 views); M406488 (215 views); M406489 (231 views); M406490 (246 views); M406491 (230 views); M407216 (229 views); M407228 (236 views); M407181 (192 views); M407191 (234 views); M407192 (234 views); M407225 (204 views); M407214 (269 views); M407213 (264 views); M407223 (225 views); M407182 (259 views); M407188 (234 views); M407221 (231 views); M407190 (207 views); M407229 (289 views); M407220 (224 views); M407185 (214 views); M407219 (238 views); M407189 (223 views); M407193 (210 views); M407224 (215 views); M407211 (191 views); M407218 (186 views); M407226 (275 views); M407183 (204 views); M407180 (248 views); M407212 (205 views); M407215 (245 views); M407184 (222 views); M407187 (229 views); M407186 (216 views); M407227 (227 views); M407222 (386 views); M407217 (223 views);
    Taxon list3437

    Project downloads

    type number of downloads Individual items downloaded (where applicable)
    Total downloads from project146
    Document downloads7Burrowing origin of modern snakes_PLY files of inner ears (6 downloads); Copyright stated in the upper right corner (1 download);
    Project downloads139