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Posted by jfirneno on March 02, 2003 at 21:55:46:
Got a chance to read the following article: (Russian Journal of Herpetology; Volume 9 No. 2 2002; Molecular Systematics and Phylogeny of Old and New World Ratsnakes; Utiger, Helfenberger et. alia)
This was a DNA study that included most of what had been elaphe up until recently and also included the North American lampropeltines (which includes Lampropeltis, Pituophis, Arizona, North American Elaphe, Bogertophis, Rhinocheilus, Senticolis).
Some of the results that I found interesting were:
1) Senticolis is the most basal North American species of the group. I guess that would make it the closest species to the asian ratsnakes from which all the american lampropeltines are derived.
2) Pituophis is derived from the North American Elaphe (now called Pantherophis). Specifically they seem to be derived from the fox snakes.
3) The Bogertophis species (rosaliae and subocularis) are more closely related to flavirufa than to the rest of the ratsnakes. And flavirufa has been removed from the rest of the ratsnakes and given its own genus Pseudelaphe In fact both flavirufa and Bogertophis together are now placed closer to the kingsnakes (Lampropeltis) than to the rest of the North American Elaphe.
4) The mandarin ratsnake and the japanese forest ratsnake have been separated from the rest of the ratsnakes into their own genus (Euprepiophis).
5) The Elaphe genus has now been whittled down to just a few eurasian species: bimaculata, dione, quatorlineata, sauromates, climacophora, quadrivirgata, schrenckii (and only maybe anomala as a species), carinata and davidi.
6) The rest of the eurasian ratsnakes are divided into a few new genera: Oreophis has porphyaceus. Orthriophis contains hodgsonii, taeniurus, cantoris and mollendorffi. Zamenis is left with situla, persicus, longissimus, hohenackeri and lineatis. And it turns out the North American lampropeltines as a whole (ratsnakes, pine snakes, king snakes and the others listed above) are actually closer to the snakes left in the genus Elaphe than all the rest of these new genera.