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Published: 2016-09-28

A revision and key for the tribe Diaphorolepidini (Serpentes: Dipsadidae) and checklist for the genus Synophis

Department of Biological Sciences, The George Washington University, 2023 G St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20052 USA
Centro de Investigación en Biodiversidad y Cambio Climático (BioCamb), Ingeniería en Biodiversidad y Recursos Genéticos, Facultad de Ciencias de Medio Ambiente, Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica, Calle Machala y Sabanilla, Quito, Ecuador
Laboratório de Sistemática de Vertebrados, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil División de Herpetología-Centro de Ornitología y Biodiversidad (CORBIDI), Santa Rita N˚105 Of. 202, Urb. Huertos de San Antonio, Surco, Lima, Perú
Museo de Zoología, Escuela de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Avenida 12 de Octubre y Roca, Apartado 17-01-2184, Quito, Ecuador
Reptilia species delimitation taxonomy phylogeny morphological molecular systematics Diaphorolepidini Synophis Synophis niceforomariae Andean Shadow Snakes


The genus Synophis contains a number of enigmatic species, distributed primarily in the Andean highlands of northern South America. Their extreme crypsis and rarity has precluded detailed study of most species. A recent flurry of collection activity resulted in the accession of many new specimens, and the description of 4 new species in 2015, doubling the number of described taxa. However, lingering questions remain regarding the assignment of many new and historical specimens, the morphological limits and geographical ranges of the species, and their phylogenetic relationships. We analyze new and existing morphological and molecular data to produce a new molecular phylogeny and revised morphological descriptions. We validate the previously unavailable tribe name Diaphorolepidini Jenner, Pyron, Arteaga, Echevarría, & Torres-Carvajal tribe nov., describe a 9th species Synophis niceforomariae Pyron, Arteaga, Echevarría, & Torres-Carvajal sp. nov., and offer new Standard Names in English and Spanish for the group: Andean Shadow Snakes and Culebras Andinas de la Sombra, respectively. A variety of features such as vertebrae and hemipenes show an interesting range of variation in the group, which should be evaluated in future studies, to refine species limits and diagnoses further. Cryptic and undiscovered diversity undoubtedly remains, and we hope this summary provides a robust basis for future work.



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