Abstract

The paper reviews the entire fossil record of the Colubridae coming from the European Early Oligocene (MP21) to late Early Pliocene (MN15) localities. Prior to the end of the Early Miocene, European colubrids were rare and dominated by booid snakes. At the end of the Early Miocene (MN4), the archaic ophidian fauna of Europe was literally flooded by eastern immigrants, principally representatives of the colubroid families Colubridae, Elapidae, and Viperidae. Since then, the Colubridae became a dominant group in snake assemblages, both in Europe and elsewhere. The rich colubrid fauna inhabiting the European continent in the Middle Miocene (MN5 to 7+8) was composed exclusively of extinct species, representing mainly fossil genera, although members of living genera were also quite common. At the beginning of the Late Miocene (MN9), almost all fossil genera became extinct, but living genera were represented exclusively by fossil species. In the late Early Pliocene (MN15), almost all European colubrids were living species. The Late Pliocene (MN16) and Pleistocene colubrid snakes did not differ from those inhabiting Europe today.

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