In Press: A new species of Brachyorrhos from Seram, Indonesia and notes on fangless homalopsids (Squamata, Serpentes)
In Review: Unraveling unique island colonization events in Elachistocleis frogs: Phylogeography, cryptic divergence, and taxonomic implications
In Review: Evidence for cryptic diversity in the Neotropical water snake Helicops angulatus (Linnaeus 1758) (Dipsadidae, Hydropsini) with comments on its ecology, facultative reproduction, and conservation
Phylogeography of West Indies Coral snakes (Micrurus): Island colonisation and banding patterns
In this study, we analyse New World coral snakes in a phylogenetic framework based upon an increased molecular data set, including novel sequences for the only two sympatric species known from an island (Trinidad, West Indies). Their presence in Trinidad and absence in Tobago offers a unique system to study the phylogeography of the region.
We assess the tempo and mode of colonisation of Micrurus on the island, in addition to discussing the phylogenetic relationships for the genus Micrurus concerning two phenotypic traits, body and tail banding patterns. These relationships are analysed for the first time on statistical coalescent phylogeographic discrete ancestral reconstruction. We find a robust phylogenetic component in these characteristics, where strongly
supported clades are recovered: prior to the onset of the Early Miocene, a triadal and tricolour tail clade composed of species from South America, and a second clade dating to the Middle‐Late‐ Miocene with monadal and bicolour tails widely distributed from North to South America. The divergence between clades dates to the Oligocene and suggests an ancient pre‐isthmus divergence supporting the arrival of the triadal clade
into South America, before the connection between Central and South America was established. We find the two coral snakes present in the West Indies, M. diutius and M. circinalis, belong to the triadal and monadal clades, respectively. Guyana and Trinidad Micrurus diutius share the same haplotypes suggesting a Late Pleistocene– Holocene vicariance when sea level rises separated Trinidad from the mainland. A second lineage of diutius‐like snakes is present in Guyana and is confirmed as M. lemniscatus which is assigned as a voucher and restricts the type locality for M. lemniscatus.
Jowers MJ, Garcia Mudarra JL, Charles SP, Murphy JC. 2019. Phylogeography of West Indies Coral snakes (Micrurus): Island colonisation and banding patterns. Zoologica Scripta. 48(3):263-76.
Systematics of the Brown Vine Snake
The Brown Vine Snake (Oxybelis sp.) complex ranges from southeast Arizona to Paraguay.
The Three-lined Snake , Atractus trilineatus
ABSTRACT: The Neotropical dipsadid snake genus Atractus contains more species than any other genus of serpents. The type species for the genus, Three-lined Snakes (Atractus trilineatus), occurs in northern South America, as well as in the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. Little is known about the phylogenetic position of this fossorial snake. Here, we examine the genetic variation of this species. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that A. trilineatus is an early branch within Atractus, and is deeply divergent from all of the other 31 species within the genus included in our analyses. Populations of A. trilineatus from Trinidad and Tobago show a close genetic affinity with mainland populations from Guyana, and indicate recent vicariance following Late Pleistocene sea-level rises. Overwater dispersal events cannot be ruled out, however, especially for the colonization of Tobago. Our results add to the understanding of the complexity of the phylogeographic events in the eastern Caribbean with this ecologically constrained species.
Murphy JC, Salvi D, Braswell AL, Jowers MJ. Phylogenetic Position and Biogeography of Three-Lined Snakes (Atractus trilineatus: Squamata, Dipsadidae) in the Eastern Caribbean. Herpetologica. 2019 Sep;75(3):247-53.
Bachia, lizards with reduced limbs
To the left: Bachia whitei from Tobago. Murphy JC, Salvi D, Santos JL, Braswell AL, Charles SP, Borzée A, Jowers MJ. The reduced limbed lizards of the genus Bachia (Reptilia, Squamata, Gymnophthalmidae); biogeography, cryptic diversity, and morphological convergence in the eastern Caribbean. Organisms Diversity & Evolution. 2019:1-20.
Bachia trinitatis, formerly considered a subspecies of Bachia heteropa. Murphy JC, Salvi D, Santos JL, Braswell AL, Charles SP, Borzée A, Jowers MJ. The reduced limbed lizards of the genus Bachia (Reptilia, Squamata, Gymnophthalmidae); biogeography, cryptic diversity, and morphological convergence in the eastern Caribbean. Organisms Diversity & Evolution. 2019:1-20.
An new Erythrolamprus from Tobago
Resurrection of an old name for a neglected species of Polychrus
To the left: Polychrus auduboni, formerly considered to be Polychrus marmoratus. Murphy, John C.; Lehtinen, Rick M.; Charles, Stevland P.; Wasserman, Danielle; Anton, Tom; and Brennan, Patrick J., 2017. Cryptic multicolored lizards in the Polychrus marmoratus Group (Squamata: Sauria: Polychrotidae) and the status of Leiolepis auduboni Hallowell. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, 11(1), 1-16 (e132).
A look at the systematics of the largest Neotropical Teiids
To the left: Tupinambis cryptus formerly considered T. teguixin. Murphy JC, Jowers MJ, Lehtinen RM, Charles SP, Colli GR, Peres Jr AK, Hendry CR, Pyron RA. Cryptic, sympatric diversity in tegu lizhttps://www.academia.edu/27507676/2016._Cryptic_Sympatric_Diversity_in_Tegu_Lizards_of_the_Tupinambis_teguixin_Group_Squamata_Sauria_Teiidae_and_the_Description_of_Three_New_Speciesards of the Tupinambis teguixin Group (Squamata, Sauria, Teiidae) and the description of three new species. PloS one. 2016 Aug 3;11(8):e0158542.
Treerunners on Trinidad and the Caribbean Coast Range are different from those on the Guyana Shield
To the left: Plica caribeana , formerly considered Plica plica. Murphy JC, Jowers MJ. Treerunners, cryptic lizards of the Plica plica group (Squamata, Sauria, Tropiduridae) of northern South America. ZooKeys. 2013(355):49.
Treerunners in the genus Plica were long considered two species. One of those species, Plica plica is a complex of taxa. To the left a comparison of head scalation for five species in the Plica plica Group found in northern South America. A Plica caribeana FMNH 49838 B Plica kathleenae FMNH 30931 C Plica medemi FMNH 165207 D Plica plica FMNH 128950 E Plica rayi FMNH 177926. In the 2013 paper we describe four new species.
A Parrot Snake endemic to Tobago
To the bottom left: Leptophis haileyi. Known only from the holotype from Tobago. It is compared to the only other Leptophis on the island, L. coeruleodorsus (top). Murphy JC, Charles SP, Lehtinen RM, Koeller KL. A molecular and morphological characterization of Oliver’s parrot snake, Leptophis coeruleodorsus (Squamata: Serpentes: Colubridae) with the description of a new species from Tobago. Zootaxa. 2013 Oct 9;3718(6):561-74.
Oxybelis aeneus is a complex of cryptic species
A B S T R A C T
The Brown Vine Snake, Oxybelis aeneus, is considered a single species despite the fact its distribution covers an estimated 10% of the Earth’s land surface, inhabiting a variety of ecosystems throughout North, Central, and South America and is distributed across numerous biogeographic barriers. Here we assemble a multilocus molecular dataset (i.e. cyt b, ND4, cmos, PRLR) derived from Middle American populations to examine for the first time the evolutionary history of Oxybelis and test for evidence of cryptic lineages using Bayesian and maximum
likelihood criteria. Our divergence time estimates suggest that Oxybelis diverged from its sister genus, Leptophis, approximately 20.5 million years ago (Ma) during the lower-Miocene. Additionally, our phylogenetic and species delimitation results suggest O. aeneus is likely a complex of species showing relatively deep species-level divergences initiated during the Pliocene. Finally, ancestral area reconstructions suggest a Central American origin and subsequent expansion into North and South America.
Jadin RC, Blair C, Jowers MJ, Carmona A, Murphy JC. 2019. Hiding in the lianas of the tree of life: Molecular phylogenetics and species delimitation reveal considerable cryptic diversity of New World Vine Snakes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 134:61-5.
To the left: Cerberus schneiderii. For most of the 20th Century the genus Cerberus was recognized as one species Cerberus rynchops. It is now composed of five species. Most of which were previously considered subspecies. We also described Cerberus dunsoni from Palau, Micronesia that is shown at the bottom left. Murphy JC, Voris HK, & Karns DR (2012). The dog-faced water snakes, a revision of the genus Cerberus Cuvier, (Squamata, Serpentes, Homalopsidae), with the description of a new species. Zootaxa (3484):1–34.
Enhydris subtaeniata systematics
To the left: Enhydris subtaneitata originally described by Bourret, it was long confused with Enhydris jagorii. In this paper we revalidated this species and described Enhydris chanardi another species long confused with E. jagorii. Murphy JC, Voris HK. A new Thai Enhydris (Serpentes: Colubridae: Homalopsinae). (2005) Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 53(1):143-7.
A water snake endemic to the Bangkok area
A new species of homalopsid from Borneo
Short-tailed snakes of the Moluccas
Eastern Indonesian Brachyorrhos was long considered a monotypic species of unknown relationships. We demonstrated that it is a basal, fangless homalopsid composed of at least four different species. Top: B. wallacei, B. gastrotaneius, B. raffrayi.
Murphy JC, Sanders KL. First molecular evidence for the phylogenetic placement of the enigmatic snake genus Brachyorrhos (Serpentes: Caenophidia). Molecular phylogenetics and evolution. 2011 Dec 1;61(3):953-7.
Murphy JC, Lang RD, Gower DJ, Sanders KL. 2012. The Moluccan Short-Tailed Snakes of the Genus Brachyorrhos Kuhl (Squamata: Serpentes: Homalopsidae), and the status of Calamophis Meyer. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 60(2).
Short-tailed Snakes from Western Papua’s Bird’s Head Region
Calamophis, a genus endemic to the Bird’s Head Region of West Papua, was considered a synonym of Brachyorrhos we removed it and described three new species. To the left: Calamophis katesandersae, C. ruuddelangei, C. sharonbrooksae. Murphy JC. 2012. Synonymized and Forgotten, The Bird’s Head Stout-Tailed Snakes, Calamophis Meyer (Squamata: Serpentes: Homalopsidae). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 60(2).
An unusual homalopsid from Sumatra
A Sumatra snake, misidentified as Brachyorrhos alba was recognized a a new genus and species based upon a single specimen. (2013) Murphy JC, Voris HK. An Unusual, Fangless Short-tailed Snake (Squamata, Serpentes, Homalopsidae) from Sumatra, Indonesia. Asian Herpetological Research, 4(2):140-6.
New species of Myron from Australia and the Aru Islands
The Australasian genus Myron was monotypic. We described two new species: one from the Aru islands, Myron karnsi, which is a melanistic form, and M. resatari from northwestern Australia. These dwarf homalopsids are marine and brackish water snakes. Murphy JC. 2011. The Nomenclature and Systematics of some Australasian Homalopsid Snakes (Squamata: Serpentes: Homalopsidae). Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 2011. 59(2).
The Systematics of the genus Enhydris
A new species of homalopsid from Myanmar
The species Enhydris maculosa (now Gyiophis maculosa) had a lost holotype. When specimens were examined two distinct species were found. The new species was named E. vorisi (now Gyiophis vorisi) . This is is a snake of the Irrawaddy delta. Murphy JC. (2007) A review of Enhydris maculosa (Blanford, 1879) and the description of a related species (Serpentes, Homalopsidae). Hamadryad-Madras.31(2):281.