Monday, February 7, 2022

[Herpetology • 2021] Boaedon mendesi • Taxonomic Revision of the Jita Snakes (Serpentes: Lamprophiidae: Boaedon) from São Tomé and Príncipe (Gulf of Guinea), with the Description of A New Species

Boaedon mendesi  
Ceríaco, Arellano, Jadin, Marques, Parrinha & Hallermann, 2021

The taxonomic status of the São Tomé and Príncipe islands ‘Cobras Jitas’, genus Boaedon, has been a subject of confusion. Historically, these island populations have been referred to as part of either the Boaedon fuliginosus species complex or Boaedon capensis species complex, two of the most taxonomically challenging groups of African snakes, or considered a distinct taxonomic entity, B. bedriagae. Here we review the São Tomé and Príncipe populations through a combination of morphological and molecular data. Our results suggest that each island population represents a unique species. After a thorough review of the taxonomic and nomenclatural history of the group, we revalidate B. bedriagae, restricting the application of this name to the São Tomé population by the designation of a lectotype. We also describe the Príncipe population as a new species, Boaedon mendesi sp. nov. This description has implications to our understanding of the diversity and phylogeographic patterns of the Gulf of Guinea Oceanic Islands.

KEY WORDS: Boaedon bedriagae, Boaedon mendesi sp. nov., Boaedon fuliginosus complex, endemism, island biodiversity

 Live photo of the holotype of Boaedon mendesi sp. nov. 

Boaedon mendesi sp. nov. 

Live photo of the holotype of Boaedon mendesi sp. nov. (MUHNAC/MB03-977), basking in a tree during daytime.
Photo by Luis M.P. Ceríaco.

Luis M.P. Ceríaco, Ana Lisette Arellano, Robert C Jadin, Mariana P Marques, Diogo Parrinha and Jakob Hallermann. 2021. Taxonomic Revision of the Jita Snakes (Lamprophiidae: Boaedon) from São Tomé and Príncipe (Gulf of Guinea), with the Description of A New Species. African Journal of Herpetology. 70(1)  DOI: 10.1080/21564574.2020.1832152