Temporal range: Cretaceous – Eocene
|A life restoration and size comparison of Palaeophis colossaeus|
Species within this genus lived from the Cretaceous period to the Eocene epoch, approximately from 70.6 to 33.9 million years ago. Fossils of species within this genus have been found in England, France, Denmark, Morocco and Mali.
These species varied broadly in size; Palaeophis casei is the smallest at 1.3 metres of length, while Palaeophis colossaeus, known from a single vertebra, is the largest at the estimated size limits for the genus at over 9 m (29.5 ft) in length, making it one of the largest known snakes. However most species of the genus were not as big.
Species of Palaeophis were specialised aquatic animals, as their fossils occur primarily in marine strata, though at least some estuarine remains have also been found. Different species are thought to have occupied different ecological niches.
Studies on Palaeophis vertebrae show a high degree of vascularisation, suggesting that it had a considerably faster metabolism and growth rate than modern snakes. This may suggest that palaeophiids, like other marine reptiles such as mosasaurs, might had developed towards endothermy.
- †Palaeophis africanus (Andrews 1924)
- †Palaeophis casei (Holman 1982)
- †Palaeophis colossaeus (Rage 1983)
- †Palaeophis ferganicus (Averianov, 1997)
- †Palaeophis grandis (Marsh 1869)
- †Palaeophis halidanus (Cope 1868)
- †Palaeophis littoralis (Cope 1847)
- †Palaeophis maghrebianus (Arambourg 1952)
- †Palaeophis nessovi (Averianov 1997)
- †Palaeophis tamdy (Averianov, 1997)
- †Palaeophis toliapicus (Owen, 1841)
- †Palaeophis typhaeus (Owen, 1850)
- †Palaeophis vastaniensis (Bajpai & Head 2008)
- †Palaeophis virginianus (Lynn, 1934)