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: 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: 1.62G

Download Project SDD File
Currently Viewing:
MorphoBank Project 2170

    This research
    supported by

    Authors' Institutions

    • University of Edinburgh

    • American Museum of Natural History


    member name taxa specimens media media
    Hong-yu Yi
    Project Administrator
    MorphoBank Curator
    Full membership

    Project has no matrices defined.

    Project views

    type number of views Individual items viewed (where applicable)
    Total project views51099
    Project overview2535
    Documents list1209
    Specimen list19899
    Media views19494Media search (3095 views); M406390 (431 views); M406482 (389 views); M406483 (464 views); M406490 (388 views); M406486 (383 views); M406485 (382 views); M406491 (357 views); M406487 (365 views); M406484 (365 views); M406488 (360 views); M406489 (373 views); M407216 (362 views); M407228 (349 views); M407181 (329 views); M407191 (370 views); M407192 (355 views); M407225 (340 views); M407214 (423 views); M407213 (397 views); M407223 (353 views); M407182 (400 views); M407188 (371 views); M407221 (364 views); M407190 (332 views); M407229 (391 views); M407220 (355 views); M407185 (351 views); M407219 (400 views); M407189 (360 views); M407193 (347 views); M407224 (349 views); M407211 (326 views); M407218 (337 views); M407226 (415 views); M407183 (336 views); M407180 (392 views); M407212 (343 views); M407215 (392 views); M407184 (351 views); M407187 (366 views); M407186 (347 views); M407227 (349 views); M407222 (535 views); M407217 (355 views);
    Taxon list7213

    Project downloads

    type number of downloads Individual items downloaded (where applicable)
    Total downloads from project300
    Document downloads11Burrowing origin of modern snakes_PLY files of inner ears (9 downloads); Copyright stated in the upper right corner (2 downloads);
    Project downloads288
    Media downloads1M406484 (1 download);