Monday 24 February 2014

Small Snakes

In May 2005, I went trekking in the hills of Olympos, and started turning over stones and boulders. Soon I encountered two strange, pink, serpentine reptiles.

The first looked for all the word like a reptilian worm. It was not a snake, but an amphisbaenian, superficially snake-like relatives of Lacertid lizards. This guy was of the species known as Blanus strauchi. It moved like a true earthworm or a gigantic caterpillar, shuffling back and forth inside its loose, scaly skin.

A while later I came across a true snake. This creature, with its tiny, pinprick-like eyes, was a Typhlopid blindsnake, Xerotyphlops vermicularis.

Although they looked similar, these animals were not close relatives. The selective forces of evolution had given them similar forms, weeding out all excess features for a burrowing life. Without limbs, tails, ears and even eyes, they were among the most minimal of all backboned animals.

I wanted to keep these critters as pets, but I knew I couldn't take good care of them if I took them home. I released them back into their burrows and continued with my trek.


  1. Dear Mr/Ms Kosemen
    I am in terested in your picture (the top one) for a scientific publication. Can I use it and quote you? If you authiorise me can you please let me know how you we should proceed. Kind regards
    Dr Marjan Mashkour (AASPE- UMR 7209- CNRS/ MNHN)

    1. Dear Dr. Mashkour,
      Yes, of course, I hereby grant you all permission to use this image...
      Will you be able to send me a copy of your publication to

    2. Dear Mr/Ms Kosemen,
      many thanks for your authorisation. Of course I will send you a copu of the publication. For your information 2 mumified blind snakes wer found in a salt mine in NW of Iran. These are exceptional finds. My paper will be published in an exhibition catalogue about the archaoelogical findings in this mine. The project is conducted by the Iranian Cultural Heritage Ministry and the Mine Museum of Bochum in Germany. My interest in your picture is that I can clearly demonstrate the size of the animal.
      Best wishes to you

    3. Thanks Dr. Mashkour - I'm looking forward to your publication...
      Best wishes,
      C M Kosemen