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Very interesting....

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Posted by Terry Cox on March 03, 2003 at 04:56:02:

In Reply to: Further changes to ratsnake systematics posted by jfirneno on March 02, 2003 at 21:55:46:

Sure would like to see the whole article.

I saw some of this coming and welcome some of it, while reserving judgement of other parts. As the process continues, of the breaking up of the Elaphe, there's bound to be more changes as the framework is fine tuned.

For example...I like conspicillata being placed with mandarina. It had been put with porphyracea before. I figured the true "Elaphe" would be the Eurasians that were left after the reassignment of all the other species. Elaphe will be schrencki, anomala, quatuorlineata, and all the miniature Eurasians. But I thought situla and hohenackeri always were related to the other miniature Eurasians, like dione and bimaculata. My situla are an awful lot like my dione.

One more change I see in the future that hasn't happened, yet, but should, is the formation of another genus in East Asia containing..carinata, quadrivirgata, and davidi. These are obviously different ratsnakes (if ratsnakes) and seem to be related. Climacophora should be placed with the taeniura/moellendorffi group, possibly. Stay tuned.

I think we'll see even more changes in the future and this should spur other researchers, taxonomists to put their two cents worth in too. Great stuff...thanks for posting. Hope you all don't mind my comments. Let's hear some more :)


: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.

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