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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Infraordo: Caenophidia
Superfamilia: Elapoidea

Familia: Elapidae
Subfamilia: Hydrophiinae
Genus: Emydocephalus
Species (4): E. annulatus – E. ijimae – E. orarius – E. szczerbaki

Emydocephalus Krefft, 1869: 321

Type species: Emydocephalus annulatus Krefft, 1869, by subsequent monotypy.

Primary references

Krefft, G. 1869. Descriptions of new Australian Snakes. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1869: 318–322. BHL

Additional references

Nankivell, J.H., Goiran, C., Hourston, M., Shine, R., Rasmussen, A.R., Thomson, V.A. & Sanders, K.L. 2020. A new species of turtle-headed sea Snake (Emydocephalus: Elapidae) endemic to Western Australia. Zootaxa 4758(1): 141–156. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4758.1.6 Paywall Reference page.


Uetz, P. & Hallermann, J. 2022. Emydocephalus . The Reptile Database. Accessed on 28 March 2020.
Emydocephalus in the World Register of Marine Species

Vernacular names
English: Turtlehead Sea Snakes

Emydocephalus is a genus of sea snakes, also known as turtle-headed sea snakes, in the family Elapidae. Unlike most sea snakes, all species of Emydocephalus, have an absence of teeth on their dentary and palatine bones, and lack venom, making them the only non-venomous elapids. The dentary and palantine bones bear only a row of papillae. Emydocephalus does, however, bear fangs and many small pterygoid teeth.[2] This reduced dentition is due to their diet consisting almost entirely of fish eggs.


The generic name, Emydocephalus, is from the Greek words ὲμύς (emys) meaning "turtle", and κεφαλή (kephale) meaning "head".[3]
Geographic range

Species of the genus Emydocephalus are found in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australasia.[4]

Emydocephalus has three recognized species.

Emydocephalus annulatus Krefft, 1869
Emydocephalus ijimae Stejneger, 1898
Emydocephalus orarius Nankivell, Goiran, Hourston, Shine, Rasmussen, Thomson, & Sanders, 2020[5]


"Emydocephalus ". ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System).
Voris K., Harold (1966). "Fish Eggs as the Apparent Sole Food Item for a Genus of Sea Snake, Emydocephalus (Krefft)". The Ecological Society of America. 47 – via Wiley.
Stejneger L (1907). Herpetology of Japan and Adjacent Territory. United States National Museum Bulletin 58. Washington, District of Columbia: Smithsonian Institution. xx + 577 pp. (Genus Emydocephalus, p. 413).
Genus Emydocephalus at The Reptile Database

Nankivell, James H.; Goiran, Claire; Hourston, Mathew; Shine, Richard; Rasmussen, Arne R.; Thomson, Vicki A.; Sanders, Kate L. (2020-03-27). "A new species of turtle-headed sea Snake ( Emydocephalus : Elapidae) endemic to Western Australia". Zootaxa. 4758 (1): 141–156. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4758.1.6. ISSN 1175-5334.

Further reading

Goin CJ, Goin OB, Zug GR (1978). Introduction to Herpetology, Third Edition. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman. xi + 378 pp. ISBN 0-7167-0020-4. (Genus Emydocephalus, p. 332).
Krefft G (1869). The Snakes of Australia; An Illustrative and Descriptive Catalogue of All the Known Species. Sydney: Thomas Richards, Government Printer. xxv + 100 pp. + Plates I-XII. (Emydocephalus, new genus, p. 92).


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