Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A New Species of Goo-eating Snake

Omoadiohis aurula
Burrowing and leaf-litter dwelling snakes are poorly know, in part because they can only be seen when they come to the surface or are dug out of their burrows and in part because they live in places that have not been frequented by herpetologists. Snakes that burrow tend to have small eyes, a reduced number of scale rows on the body (usually less than 19), head shields that are fused, and exceptionally short tails. In the Neotropics there are seven genera of snakes that tend to be burrowing, or leaf litter dwellers, and that feed on soft bodied invertebrates – resulting in the moniker “goo-eaters.” Adelphicos (6 species mostly Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala), Atractus (135 species, widespread), Chapinophis (one species, Guatemala), Chersodromus (2 species, Mexico and Guatemala), Geophis (47 species, mostly Middle America), and Ninia (9 species in Middle and South America). A seventh genera was described in 2001 by Kohler et al., Omoadiohis on the basis of a single specimen of a species now known as Omoadiohis aurula. The snake was found in the preserved collection at the visitors’ center of Parque Nacional El Cusuco, Cortés, Honduras. In 2004 a second species (O. texiguatensis ) was described from the Cerro Texíguat Wildlife Refuge in the Cordillera Nombre de Dios of northern Honduras by McCranie and Castañeda. Now a third species, Omoadiphas cannula , has been described (McCraine and CruzDiaz, 2010) from Montaña de Peña Blanca, Sierra de Agalta, Honduras. Thus, Omoadiphas is known from three species, all from Honduras, and each is known from only 1 to 6 specimens found between 1250 to 1900 m in elevation, making it one of the most poorly known snake genera in the Neotropics.Many species of burrowing and leaf litter dwelling snakes undoubtedly remain undiscovered.

Köhler, G., L. D. Wilson, and J. R. McCranie. 2001. A new genus and species of colubrid snake from the Sierra de Omoa of northwestern Honduras (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae). Senckenbergiana Biologica, 81(1-2):269-276.

 McCranie, J. R. 2006. A description of the first male of the colubrid snake genus Omoadiphas, with an expanded definition of the genus. Caribbean Journal of Science, 42(2):267–269.

McCranie, J. R. and F. E. Castañeda,  2004:. A new species of snake of the genus Omoadiphas (Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae) from the Cordillera Nombre de Dios in northern Honduras. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 117(3):311-316.

McCranie, J. R. and G. A. Cruz Díaz. 2010. A third new species of snake of the genus Omoadiphas (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae, Dipsadinae) from Honduras. Zootaxa, 2690: 53–58.

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