Three poorly known cryptozoic, neotropical snakes, Xenopholis


The Neotropical herpetofauna is likely the world’s most diverse and it includes many taxa of uncertain or debated taxonomy. In a recent paper Gomes et a. (2020) evaluate the taxonomic status of species currently allocated in the snake genus Xenopholis (X. scalaris, X. undulatus, and X. werdingorum), commonly called Ground Snakes. Their conclusions are based on morphology and ecological niche modeling. They recognize all three taxa as valid species and improve their respective diagnosis. They found low overlap among the niches of each species, corroborating the independent source of phenotypic evidence. Even though all three species occur in the leaf litter they use distinct forested habitats. Xenopholis undulatus is found in the elevated areas of the Brazilian Shield (Caatinga, Cerrado and Chaco). Xenolophis scalaris occurs in the Amazon and Atlantic rainforests. And, X. werdingorum in the Chiquitanos forest and Pantanal wetlands. They discuss the disjunct distribution between Amazonian and Atlantic Forest snake species in the light of available natural history and ecological aspects.

Gomes DF, Azevedo J, Murta-Fonseca R, Faurby S, Antonelli A, Passos P (2020) Taxonomic revision of the genus Xenopholis Peters, 1869 (Serpentes: Dipsadidae): Integrating morphology with ecological niche. PLoS ONE 15(12): e0243210.