Morphological Adaptations for Egg-Eating in the Snake Elaphe davidi Sauvage 1884

Notker Helfenberger, Beat Schätti


External morphology, skull characters, vertebral structures (hypapophyses) and anatomical features were studied in three colubrid species. Morphological similarities with the stenophagous African Dasypeltis scabra and the Far Eastern euryphagous Elaphe climacophora indicate that eggs may constitute an occasional or rather seasonal diet in Elaphe davidi. This interpretation is based on the shape of the hypapophyses penetrating the esophagus, the proportions and kinetics of some skull elements, the number of anterior dorsal scale rows, modifications of the esophageal lining and a cranial shift of the heart and the anterior liver tip.


Reptilia; Serpentes; Colubridae; Elaphe davidi; Elaphe climacophora; Elaphe quadrivirgata; Elaphe carinata; Dasypeltis scabra; China; Japan; Korea; Africa; morphological adaptations; egg-eating

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