Boidae

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The Boidae are a family of non-venomous snakes found in America, Africa, Europe, Asia and some Pacific Islands. Relatively primitive snakes, adults are medium to large in size, with females usually larger than the males. Two subfamilies comprising eight genera and 43 species are currently recognized.[2]

Contents

Description

Like the pythons, boas have elongated supratemporal bones. The quadrate bones are also elongated, but not as much, while both are capable of moving freely so that when they swing sideways to their maximum extent, the distance between the hinges of the lower jaw is greatly increased.[3]

Both families share a number of primitive characteristics. Nearly all have a relatively rigid lower jaw with a coronoid element, as well as a vestigial pelvic girdle with hind limbs that are partially visible as a pair of spurs, one on either side of the vent. In males, these anal spurs are larger and more conspicuous than in females. A long row of palatal teeth is present and most species have a functional left lung that can be up to 75% as large as the right lung.[3][4]

Boids are, however, distinguished from the pythons in that none have postfrontal bones or premaxillary teeth, and that they give birth to live young. When labial pits are present, these are located between the scales as opposed to on them. Also, their geographical distributions are almost entirely mutually exclusive. In the few areas that they do coexist, the tendency is for them to occupy different habitats.[3]

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