Tuesday, September 30, 2014

[Herpetology • 2014] Reclassification of Oligodon ningshaanensis Yuan, 1983 (Ophidia: Colubridae) into a New Genus, Stichophanes gen. nov. with Description on Its Malacophagous Behavior


Stichophanes gen. nov. ningshaanensis [syn. Oligodon ningshaanensis]
 An extremely rare colubrid from Hubei Province, China. A single specimen was discovered in 1983 and none have been seen since, until I uncovered approximately 25 specimens in 2006 and 2008 at the site where this individual was photographed. Unlike other members in the genus [Oligodon], this species does not prey on eggs, but preys exclusively on snails and slugs.
 text & photo: K. Messenger [July 2011] flic.kr/p/ajY5UU

Abstract

The complete mitochondrial cytb gene and the partial nuclear c-mos gene of Oligodon ningshaanensis Yuan, 1983 were sequenced and used for reconstructing the phylogenetic relationship of this taxon amongst alethinophidian snakes. Its strong affinity to the New World subfamily Dipsadinae and the Old World species Thermophis baileyi was inferred. Hemipenial morphology found by authors conflicts with the original description and its similarity with those of the dipsadid snakes is in accordance with our molecular results. Feeding tests show that O. ningshaanensis is a malacophagous predator, which is another matchless character for this species. This behavior is described and compared with other known slug- and snail-feeding snakes. The discovery of the particular position of our subject indicates that erecting a new genus is necessary accommodate this unique species.

Keywords: Stichophanes gen. nov. ningshaanensis, Dipsadinae, molecular phylogeny, hemipenial morphology, mollusks-predator


Xiaohe WANG, Kevin MESSENGER, Ermi ZHAO and Chaodong ZHU. 2014. Reclassification of Oligodon ningshaanensis Yuan, 1983 (Ophidia: Colubridae) into a New Genus, Stichophanes gen. nov. with Description on Its Malacophagous Behavior. 
Asian Herpetological Research. 
5(3): 137–149. 

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