Bornean spine-jawed snake (Xenophidion acanthognathus)

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Bornean spine-jawed snake (Xenophidion acanthognathus)

Post by Neiloss »

Hello all,

Nearly five months ago we observed a strange-looking snake in Sarawak, Borneo. Only ever previously recorded once in 1987, this is the second known observation of an individual – and following the confirmation of this record in the Herpetological Review 48(1)2017, I can now share with you the only photographs of a living Bornean spine-jawed snake (Xenophidion acanthognathus). Here’s an excerpt from the trip report:

'For me, one of the greatest things about the species diversity in rainforests is that you never know what you’re going to find. On top of this, sometimes when you find something you still don’t know what you’ve found…

After a short ascent we crested a ridge as the most exciting noise in the jungle rang out: the cry of ‘Snake!’ – And there, lying on a mossy log, was a 25cm chequered snake with an unfamiliar look to it. Luckily it was not going anywhere fast and we were able to take photographs whilst swiftly leafing through our field guide to see what we were dealing with. Could it be a reed snake? Wolfy? We just couldn’t tell. We were pretty sure we hadn’t seen anything like this before…
…The reason for this was that this snake had only ever been recorded once (just one single record from Sabah in 1987), making this the second ever known sighting of this species! The shots below are, as I understand, the only photographs of a living specimen of the Bornean spine-jawed snake (Xenophidion acanthognathus).'


Full trip report with some extra photos is here - ... -2016.html


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Re: Bornean spine-jawed snake (Xenophidion acanthognathus)

Post by SurfinHerp »

What an interesting snake, and what a stroke of luck coming across one!

Did you take any photos that illustrate why it's named 'spine-jawed'?



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Re: Bornean spine-jawed snake (Xenophidion acanthognathus)

Post by dendrelaphis »

Wow, amazing, this picture should be included in the next version of "A field guide to the snakes of Borneo"

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: Bornean spine-jawed snake (Xenophidion acanthognathus)

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck »

That is really, really cool...!

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Re: Bornean spine-jawed snake (Xenophidion acanthognathus)

Post by dwakefield »

Wow, that's awesome!!!

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The Real Snake Man
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Re: Bornean spine-jawed snake (Xenophidion acanthognathus)

Post by The Real Snake Man »

I don't know that many people here appreciate the magnitude of this discovery. Spine-jawed snakes (Xenophiidae) are two species of snakes, one known from Borneo and one known from Peninsular Malaysia, both of which were only documented once a few decades back and then never seen again. They are the only members of their incredibly little-known family, which is believed to be basal to ALL snakes with the exception of blind snakes, the false coral snake, and dwarf boas. They are incredibly important from an evolutionary standpoint and yet ridiculously hard to find. THIS IS A HUGE DEAL. Get excited people. Gosh. Don't think of it as the second sighting of a species. Think of it as the third sighting of a family.


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Re: Bornean spine-jawed snake (Xenophidion acanthognathus)

Post by intermedius »

I jumped for joy when I saw this post. Just a f***ing unbelievable find. 2017's becoming a banner year for herpetological discoveries! To expand upon this snake's significance, check out this article. ... penis.html

– Justin

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