primitive snake

Pachyophis was a marine snake. Its thick ribs acted like lead weights to counter its buoyancy in the water. Although significantly different from modern snakes, it was correctly identified in 1923 by its first scientific describer, the naturalist Baron Nopcsa.

In the Cretaceous period, while Pachyophis was swimming in the oceans, its relatives were conquering the land. Primitive snakes like Pachyophis died out at the end of the Mesozoic era, and modern snakes only returned to the sea in the latest chapter of the Earth’s history, the Neocene.

On display in Hall 8.

© NHM Wien, Lois Lammerhuber