Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Jaw swallows large prey: pythons

The jaws of pythons allow the snakes to swallow huge prey because of their multibar linkages.

  "We mammals make no great use of multibar linkages, but a lot of other vertebrates depend on them. The most famous are snakes that can swallow items of prey whose diameters and cross sections exceed those of themselves. How pythons (genus Python) manage was carefully analyzed by Frazzetta (1966), who regarded their skull and jaws as linkages with no fewer than eight bars. Such snakes use two such linkages, one on each side of the head, with a lot of flexibility in between. The setup permits the mouth to gape sufficiently to accommodate huge prey, which then get digested at leisure." (Vogel 2003:400-401)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Frazetta, TH. 1966. Studies on the morphology and function of the skull in the Boidae (Serpentes). Part II: morphology and function of the jaw apparatus in Python sebae and Python molurus. Journal of Morphology. 118: 217-295.
  • Steven Vogel. 2003. Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 580 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:25
Specimens with Sequences:32
Specimens with Barcodes:21
Species With Barcodes:7
Public Records:8
Public Species:5
Public BINs:3
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Barcode data

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Python (genus)

Python, from the Greek word (πύθων/πύθωνας), is a genus of nonvenomous pythons[2] found in Africa and Asia. Currently, 12 species are recognised.[2] A member of this genus, P. reticulatus, is among the longest snake species and extant reptiles in the world.

Geographic range[edit]

Python anchietae

Found in Africa in the tropics south of the Sahara, but not in the extreme south-western tip of southern Africa (Western Cape), or in Madagascar. In Asia, it is found from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, including the Nicobar Islands, through Myanmar, east to Indochina, southern China, Hong Kong and Hainan, as well as in the Malayan region of Indonesia and the Philippines.[1]

Some suggest that P. molurus and P. sebae have the potential to be problematic invasive species in South Florida.[3] The United States Department of Agriculture reports that only Python molurus bivittatus is an invasive species in the United States.[4] More recent data suggests that these pythons would not withstand winter climates north of Florida, contradicting previous research suggesting a more significant geographic potential range.[5][6]


Species[2][7]IUCN Status[8]Taxon author[2]Subsp.*[2]Common nameGeographic range[1]
P. anchietae

Angolan Dwarf Python (Python anchietae).jpg

LC(Bocage, 1887)0Angolan pythonAfrica in southern Angola and northern Namibia.
P. bivittatus

Python molurus bivittatus (1).jpg

VU(Kuhl, 1820)1[dubious ]Burmese pythonS Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, S China (S Yunnan east to Fujian, incl. Hainan and Hong Kong; Sichuan, Guangxi, Guangdong), Indonesia (Java, Bali)
P. brongersmai

Python brongersmai by hj west.jpg

LC(Stull, 1938)0Brongersma's short-tailed python/ Blood pythonPeninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Bangka Island, Lingga islands, Riau islands, and Pinang
P. breitensteini

Python curtus.jpg

LC(Steindachner, 1881)0Bornean python/ Bornean short-tailed pythonBorneo, including Sarawak
P. curtusNE(Schlegel, 1872)0Sumatran short-tailed pythonSoutheast Asia in southern Thailand, Malaysia (Peninsular and Sarawak) (including Pinang) and Indonesia (Sumatra, Riau Archipelago, Lingga Islands, Bangka Islands, Mentawai Islands and Kalimantan).
P. kyaiktiyo [9]

P.kyaiktiyo II.png

VU(Zug, Gotte & Jacobs, 2011)0Myanmar short-tailed pythonWest of the Tenghyo Range, Myanmar[10]
P. molurusT

Python molurus molurus 2.jpg

LR/nt(Linnaeus, 1758)0Indian python/ Black tailed PythonPakistan, India, Sri Lanka, southern Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar.
P. natalensis

Python natalensis G. J. Alexander.JPG

NE(Smith, 1840 )0Southern African rock pythonSouthern Africa such as Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho, and South Africa.
P. regius

Gravid Ball Python.jpg

LC(Shaw, 1802)0Ball python/ Royal pythonAfrica from Senegal, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Niger and Nigeria through Cameroon, Chad and the Central African Republic to Sudan and Uganda.
P. reticulatus

Python reticulatus сетчатый питон-2.jpg

NE(Schneider, 1801)0Reticulated pythonSoutheast Asia from the Nicobar Islands, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, east through Indonesia and the Indo-Australian Archipelago (Sumatra, Mentawai Islands, Natuna Islands, Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, Timor, Maluku, Tanimbar Islands) and the Philippines (Basilan, Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros, Palawan, Panay, Polillo, Samar, Tawi-Tawi).
P. sebae

Adult Female Python sebae.jpg

NE(Gmelin, 1788)0Northern African rock pythonAfrica south of the Sahara from Senegal east to Ethiopia and Somalia, including Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, Ghana, Togo, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.
P. timoriensis

Adult Lesser Sundas Python (Python timoriensis).jpg

NE(Peters, 1876)0Timor pythonIndonesia on the Lesser Sunda Islands (Flores, Lombien and Timor Islands).
P. europaeusEX(Syzndlar & Rage, 2003)0-Remains found in present day France.[11]

*) Not including the nominate subspecies.
T) Type species.[1]


Ball pythons commonly exhibit mutations, such as this "Spider" morph, and are very popular among snake keepers.

Python skin is used to make clothing such as vests, belts, boots, shoes or fashion accessories such as handbags. It may also be used to cover the sound board of some string musical instruments, such as the banhu, sanxian or the sanshin.

As Pets[edit]

Many species of pythons, such as P. regius, P. brongersmai, P. bivittatus and P. reticulatus are popular to keep as pets due to their ease of care, docile temperament, and vibrant colors, with some rare mutations having been sold for several thousands of dollars. Despite controversy that has arisen from media reports, pet pythons are relatively safe to own when proper safety procedure is practiced[12] and deaths associated with pet pythons are very isolated when compared to other domestic animals such as dogs and horses.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^ a b c d e "Python". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 11 September 2007. 
  3. ^ Python Snakes, An Invasive Species In Florida, Could Spread To One Third Of US at ScienceDaily. Accessed 18 October 2008.
  4. ^ Invasive Species: Animals. Invasivespeciesinfo.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
  5. ^ Avery, M. L., Engeman, R. M., Keacher, K. L., Humphrey, J. S., Bruce, W. E., Mathies, T. C., & Mauldin, R. E. (2010). Cold weather and the potential range of invasive Burmese pythons. Biological invasions, 12(11), 3649-3652.http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/animals/main.shtml
  6. ^ Python Snakes, An Invasive Species In Florida, Could Spread To One Third Of US
  7. ^ http://www.catalogueoflife.org/col/browse/classification/kingdom/Animalia/phylum/Chordata/class/Reptilia/order/Squamata/family/Pythonidae/genus/Python/match/1
  8. ^ http://www.iucnredlist.org
  9. ^ http://novataxa.blogspot.com/2012/01/2011-python-kyaiktiyo-myanmar.html
  10. ^ http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/199854/0
  11. ^ "Annotated checklist of the recent and extinct pythons". 
  12. ^ http://www.anapsid.org/handling.html
  13. ^ http://www.anapsid.org/pdv-boid.html
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