Thursday, December 6, 2018

[Herpetology • 2018] Cenaspis aenigma Caudals and Calyces: The Curious Case of a Consumed Chiapan Colubroid

Cenaspis aenigma 
Campbell, Smith & Hall, 2018

DOI:  10.1670/18-042 

A new genus and species of colubroid snake is described from the isolated highlands of western Chiapas. This enigmatic little snake possesses a unique suite of characters that defies placing it in any known genus and clearly distinguishes it from all known genera. Several of the most unusual features include subcaudals undivided throughout the length of the tail and a simple hemipenis completely adorned with calyces and having a sulcus spermaticus that remains unbifurcated until the apical portion of the organ. Neither of these characteristics is known for any other colubroid of the Western Hemisphere. Consideration of morphology places the new snake in the Dipsadidae and suggests that Adelphicos, Atractus, Geophis, and Chapinophis are among its closest relatives.

FIG. 1. Cenaspis aenigma (holotype, UTA R-10544, 258 mm total length),
drawing reconstructing species in life. 

Cenaspis, new genus

Etymology.— The generic name is derived from the Latin cena, meaning dinner, and aspis, meaning a kind of snake, in reference to predation on the single known individual of this snake. The name taken literally means ‘‘dinner snake.’’ 

Cenaspis aenigma, new species 

Etymology.— From the Latin aenigma meaning a riddle or mystery.

Jonathan A. Campbell, Eric N. Smith and Alexander S. Hall. 2018. Caudals and Calyces: The Curious Case of a Consumed Chiapan Colubroid. Journal of Herpetology. 52(4); 459-472. DOI:  10.1670/18-042  

Resumen: Se describe un nuevo género y especie de serpiente colubrina de las montañas aisladas del oeste de Chiapas. Esta enigmática y pequeña serpiente posee un conjunto único de caracteres que impide su asignación a cualquier otro género y claramente la distingue de cualquier género conocido. Varios de las características inusuales incluyen subcaudales no divididas a lo largo de toda la cola y un hemipene simple, completamente cubierto de cálices, y con un surco espermático que permanece no bifurcado hasta el ápice del órgano. Ninguna de estas características es conocida de cualquier colúbrido en el hemisferio occidental. Examen de morfología sugiere que la nueva serpiente pertenece a la familia Dipsadidae y su afinidad esta con Adelphicos, Atractus, Geophis, y Chapinophis.

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