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Posted by WW on January 29, 2003 at 11:06:13:
In Reply to: Re: Pantherophis posted by MichHerper on January 29, 2003 at 08:25:14:
:I came in here to ask very similar questions. Mine are, why did they decide to change it? And where does it derive from?
It was changed because it is clear that Elaphe, in its conventional sense, is just a jumble of species that may or may not share certain features, but that do not represent a natural evolutionary radiation (Elaphe is not monophyletic, in taxonomic parlance). For instance, all the north American Elaphe are much more closely related to Lampropeltis, Arizona, Pituophis etc. than they are to Old World Elaphe.
The type species of the genus Elaphe is a European species, so the name of the genus stays with that species and its close relatives. Therefore, the N. American species need to be assigned to a different genus. The name Pantherophis was coined by the herpetologist Fitzinger in the 19th century, for Elaphe guttata - since it's the oldest available genus name for the N. American ex-Elaphe, that is the one that must be used.
:Also, something I was wondering. if you can cross a Lampropeltis getula with an Elaphe (Not accepting Pantherophis just yet) getutta wouldn't that mean that we would have to change one or the other to Lampropeltis or Elaphe? Refering to jungle corns. I thought two animals of different genus couldn't breed?
That is a totally subjective and outdated approach. The main requirement for two genera is that they should each be monophyletic. Let's face it, for most possible pairs of genera, we have no data whatsoever on their crossbreeding abilities, so this is hardly a very practical criterion for widespread use.
Hope this helps.