Filipa Sampaio

Filipa Sampaio

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Filipa Sampaio

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Start Year

2015 (Cohort 2)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Burrowing snake evolution

Research Theme

Evolution and Adaptation

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution



Fossorial snakes are key to understanding snake origins and the ‘role’ of fossoriality in early snake evolution. However, they are generally understudied due to their secretive lifestyle, making them less likely to be encountered without special effort. Given their phylogenetic position and fossorial habits this PhD project will focus on two major lineages of snakes – Scolecophidia and Uropeltoidea. I aim to generate and integrate new molecular (traditional Sanger sequencing and Next Generation Sequencing) and morphological data (external morphology, x-ray and CT-scanning) to analyse the diversity, taxonomy, distribution and phylogenetic relationships of scolecophidian and uropeltoid taxa. The new data will help to assess the usefulness of morphological and molecular data in delimiting potentially cryptic fossorial species. Dated molecular phylogenies will be used to test biogeographic hypotheses explaining current patterns of diversity in global biodiversity hotspots. Additional comparative phylogenetic methods will be used to infer spatial, temporal and morphological patterns of diversification in these taxa and understand the impact that fossoriality has on biotic diversification.

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