Molecular Phylogeny and Micro CT-Scanning Revealed Extreme Cryptic Biodiversity in Kukri Snake, Muhtarophis gen. nov., a New Genus for Rhynchocalamus barani (Serpentes: Colubridae)

Aziz Avcı, Çetin Ilgaz, Mahdi Rajabizadeh, Can Yılmaz, Nazan Üzüm, Dominique Adriaens, Yusuf Kumlutaş, Kurtuluş Olgun


Application of taxonomy exclusively based on external morphology, molecular phylogeny and noninvasive anatomical investigation using micro CT scanning together is effective in resolving systematic problems, such as cryptic species. The external morphology, skull osteology and molecular phylogeny of Baran’s black-headed dwarf snake, Rhynchocalamus barani, and a subspecies of the Palestine kukri snake, Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus, were examined. Considerable osteological and molecular differences indicate that the genus Rhynchocalamus is paraphyletic. As a result, Baran’s black-headed dwarf snake should be referred to a monotypic genus, Muhtarophis gen. nov. Based on morphology and molecular data, R. satunini, previously known as a subspecies of R. melanocephalus, should be assigned the rank of species.


Muhtarophis gen. nov.; Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus; Rhynchocalamus satunini; Colubridae; Turkey

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