Cubophis Hedges & Vidal

Hedges, Blair, Couloux, Arnaud & Vidal, Nicolas, 2009, Molecular phylogeny, classification, and biogeography of West Indian racer snakes of the Tribe Alsophiini (Squamata, Dipsadidae, Xenodontinae), Zootaxa 2067, pp. 1-28: 14-16

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Cubophis Hedges & Vidal


Genus Cubophis Hedges & Vidal  , New Genus

Type species. Coluber cantherigerus Bibron, 1840: 27  .

Diagnosis. Species in this genus have 17 midbody scale rows, 159–187 ventrals, 101–133 subcaudals, 2 apical scale pits, 8 upper labials, 10 lower labials, 13–17 total maxillary teeth, and 17–21 dentary teeth ( Table 2). Cubophis  differs in at least one of these characters from all other alsophiine genera except Hypsirhynchus  . It differs from Hypsirhynchus  in hemipenial characters such as the presence of enlarged papillate body calyces in the basal region and medial surface of the lobes ( Zaher 1999).

Content. Five species (13 species + subspecies) are included in the genus ( Table 1).

Distribution. The genus is distributed in the western Caribbean: Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Swan Islands ( Fig. 2View FIGURE 2).

Etymology. The generic name refers to its distribution, centered on Cuba and nearby islands.

Remarks. Species of Cubophis  ( Fig. 3View FIGURE 3 C) are large species of racers which occur sympatrically with small ( Arrhyton  ) and moderate-sized ( Caraiba  ) species of racers on Cuba. Our finding that the Cayman Island taxa are most closely related to Cubophis vudii  supports their elevation from subspecies of Cubophis cantherigerus  to full species. Zaher et al. (2009) classified all of these species together with Borikenophis portoricensis  and other West Indian species in Ocyophis Cope  , but our results ( Figs. 1View FIGURE 1. A and 4View FIGURE 4. A) contradict that decision (see Remarks in Hypsirhynchus  )