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Visceral anatomy of the Malaysian snake genus Xenophidion, including a cladistic analysis and allocation to a new family (Serpentes: Xenophidiidae)

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The internal anatomy of Xenophidion is described and compared with that of members of other snake families. A suite of primitive characters eliminates Xenophidion as a possible member of the Caenophidia; only two characters could conceivably suggest a relationship to the Caenophidia and both are examples of losses and thus of low phylogenetic value in assessing relationships. However, among lower snakes a sister group relationship is demonstrated with the Tropidophiidae of the Neotropical region. Besides possessing nearly identical viscera and topographical arrangement thereof, Xenophidion shares several characters with the Tropidophiidae. A new family is created to contain the genus, the Xenophidiidae. The Xenophidiidae share one synapomorphy with both the Tropidophiidae and Bolyeriidae. Therefore, it is proposed that these three families be united in the superfamily Tropidophioidea. A phylogenetic analysis of 52 characters results in the following preferred hypothesis of relationships: (Boinae, (((Bolyeria, Casarea), (Xenophidion, ((Exiliboa, Ungaliophis), (Trachyboa, Tropidophis)))), Acrochordus)).

Affiliations: 1: Center for Vertebrate Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USAPotter Park, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; 2: Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Invalidenstrasse 43, D-10115 Berlin, Germany


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