Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Animalia
Genus: Dendroaspis
Species: Dendroaspis polylepis

Eurkarya- Organisms classified in this Domain have membrane bound organelles, a true nucleus enclosed by a nuclear envelope, are multicellular, and undergo cell division via mitosis. In addition, their linear chromosomes, increased size and increased complexity also classify Eukarya.

Animalia- Organisms classified in this Kingdom are multicellular, heterotrophic, and have specialized cells with an organized structure made up of cells, tissues, organs and organ systems.

Chordata- Organisms classified in this Phylum all have a notochord as an embryo, a dorsal hollow nerve cord acquired by the ectoderm tissue, pharyngeal slits, and a post anal tail present during embryonic development.

Reptilia- Organisms in this class are known as amniotes and are characterized as tetrapods. These organisms are ectothermic meaning they absorb external heat as a main source of body heat. Organisms classified in this Class are amniotes and are known for regulating their body temperature via behavioral adaptations. Although, the Dendroaspis polylepis does not have four limbs, it derived from four-limbed vertebrates and is therefore characterized as a reptile. 

Squamata- Organisms classified in this Order are able to shed their skin periodically. Furthermore, these organisms have a strong and flexible jointed skull and jaw which allows for jaw motility and a powerful bite grip.

Elapidae- Organisms classified in this Family are said to be “elapid” meaning venomous snake. This family includes cobras, adders, and mambas found in tropical and subtropical regions. Members in this Family are also characterized by their hollow front fixed fangs, smooth scales, and long, slender bodies. Moreover, members of this Family are oviparous and are active hunters.

Dendroaspis- The Genus Dendroaspis is a group of lethal mambas found in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa.

Dendroaspis polylepis- The Dendroaspis polylepis is the second longest snake in the world. It is among the most feared snakes of the world and receives its common name Black Mamba, from the coloration inside its mouth which is pitch black. The scientific name Dendroaspis polylepis derives from four Greek words. “Dendro-” derives from the Greek word “dendron” meaning ‘tree’. “-Aspis” is a general term for the world ‘shield’ and is also used to describe the coiling of a snake, which resembles a shield. “Poly-” means ‘many’ and “-lepis” means ‘scale’. Therefore, Dendroaspis polylepis translates in English as “many scaled tree snake”.


The phylogenetic tree above is based on morphological evidence. The tree depicts several synapomorphies among vertebrates, these include tetrapod limbs, amnion and feathers. The synapomorphy that unites all amniotes is known as a homologous characteristic. Furthermore, the phylogenetic tree above illustrates the relationships shared between snakes and other vertebrates such as birds, mammals, amphibians and crocodiles.


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