A new genus for the snake Erythrolamprus problematicus
Arcanumophis problematicus from Santo Domingo, Peru.
Photographs by A. Catenazzi.
During a field expedition to an abandoned mine at Santo Domingo, on 8 June 2016, in the upper reaches of a tributary of the Inambari River near Paco Pacuni, Department of Puno, Peru Smaga et al. (2019) collected a snake identified as the second specimen of E. problematicus. Based on new data recovered from this specimen, Smaga et al. conducted a molecular phylogenetic analysis of Xenodontini with 29 terminals in the tribe, including partial sequences of mitochondrial markers 12S and 16S rRNA of E. problematicus. Their results reject the allocation of the species to Erythrolamprus, recovering it as the sister group of all other members of the tribe.
Morphologically, the snake is unique. A crease on the rostral scale could reflect semi-fossorial habits but the snake shows no other morphological traits commonly found in fossorial snakes. The new specimen was found in the soil below layers of mosses, further supporting the idea that this snake is semi-fossorial, but other anatomical characteristics of the snake (skull morphology and large eyes), do not support a semi-fossorial hypothesis. The authors placed this snake in the new genus Arcanumophis.
Grazziotin, Felipe G.; Hussam Zaher, Robert W. Murphy, Gustavo Scrocchi, Marco A. Benavides, Ya-Ping Zhang and Sandro L. Bonatto 2012. Molecular phylogeny of the New World Dipsadidae (Serpentes: Colubroidea): a reappraisal. Cladistics DOI: 10.1111/j.1096-0031.2012.00393.x
Myers, C W 1986. An enigmatic new snake from the Peruvian Andes, with notes on the Xenodontini (Colubridae: Xenodontinae). American Museum Novitates (2853): 1-12.
Smaga CR, Ttito A, Catenazzi A. Arcanumophis, a new genus and generic allocation for Erythrolamprus problematicus (Myers 1986), Xenodontinae (Colubridae) from the Cordillera de Carabaya, southern Peru. Zootaxa. 2019 Sep 16;4671(1):129-38.