We report the discovery of a new species of the snake Madtsoia from1 infratrappean horizons of Late Cretaceous age in Pisdura, central India. Recovered vertebrae are large (1.83 cm long; 4.35 cm tall) and pertain to a snake that was ca. 5 m long. Discovery of Madtsoia in India extends the geographic distribution of the genus and represents only the second species known from the Cretaceous. Vertebrae of Madtsoia pisdurensis sp. nov. are strikingly similar to those of M. bai and M. camposi (South America) and M. madagascariensis (Madagascar), but can be distinguished from them by a unique process on the hemal keel, which is low, flat, and triangular in outline. Whereas the eastern Gondwanan species of Madtsoia (M. madagascariensis, M. pisdurensis) are Late Cretaceous in age, the western Gondwanan species (M. bai, M. camposi) are Paleogene in age. Geophysical evidence suggests that land connections between South America, Madagascar, and Indo-Pakistan were severed by at least 100–90 Ma, which implies that Madtsoia achieved its broad geographic distribution either by (1) origin and dispersion before the end of the Turonian; or (2) the presence of an unrecognized land connection persisting into the latest Cretaceous. Both hypotheses predict that Madtsoia will be discovered in Mesozoic strata of South America, where it survived the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction.
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Vol. 31 • No. 3