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Hypsirhynchus ater (GOSSE, 1851)

IUCN Red List - Hypsirhynchus ater - Critically Endangered, CR

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Alsophiini, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Jamaican Giant Racer, Jamaica Racer 
SynonymNatrix atra GOSSE 1851: 228
Natrix capistratus GOSSE 1851 (fide BOULENGER 1893)
Alsophis ater — GARMAN 1887: 282
Dromicus ater — BOULENGER 1894: 121
Leimadophis ater — BARBOUR 1910: 300
Alsophis ater — GRANT 1940: 122
Alsophis ater — MAGLIO 1970
Alsophis ater — SCHWARTZ & HENDERSON 1991: 568
Alsophis ater — CROTHER 1999
Alsophis ater — TIPTON 2005
Ocyophis ater — ZAHER et al. 2009
Hypsirhynchus ater — HEDGES et al. 2009
Ocyophis ater — GRAZZIOTIN et al. 2012
Ocyophis ater — WALLACH et al. 2014: 481 

Type locality: Jamaica.  
TypesSyntypes: BMNH 1946.1.4.65 (formerly, BMNH 1946.1.5.6 ?; other specimens: USNM 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (Ocyophis): Hemipenis (only known for O. ater) semicalyculate, semi-capitate and deeply bilobed, with few well developed enlarged lateral spines arranged in two parallel rows; large papillate calyces forming the capitula, which are positioned laterally; row of large papilla ornamenting the lobular crotch [GRAZZIOTIN et al. 2012]. 
CommentConservation: Possibly extinct.

Type species: Natrix atra Gosse, 1851 is the type species of the genus Ocyophis COPE 1886 which was resurrected by Zaher et al. (2009) and GRAZZIOTIN et al. 2012. The group of species that were assigned to Ocyophis is unsupported by data in HEDGES et al. 2009 though. A search for synonym = “Ocyophis Zaher 2009” will yield those species.

Synonymy: Neither Zaher et al. (2009) nor Hedges et al. (2009) had tissue or sequence data. According to GRAZZIOTIN et al. 2012, their allocation of O. ater and O. melanichnus to Hysirhynchus is unjustified. The assignment of O. ater to Hypsirhynchus is based on the absence of a loreal scale and on skull similarities taken from Maglio (1970). Whereas Maglio (1970) noted strong similarity between O. ater and Hypsirhynchus, his hypothesis of phyletic relationships (Maglio, 1970, fig. 18) places O. ater as the sister group of a lineage formed by Hypsirhynchus and Uromacer. Zaher (1999) remarked on the puzzling hemipenial morphology of O. ater (Fig. 3) and he avoided allocation for this species.

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
EtymologyNamed after its color, Latin “ater, atra, atrum” = dark or black. 
  • Barbour, T. 1910. Notes on the herpetology of Jamaica. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 52: 273—301 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, George A. 1894. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume II., Containing the Conclusion of the Colubridæ Aglyphæ. British Mus. (Nat. Hist.), London, xi, 382 pp. - get paper here
  • Garman, S. 1887. On West Indian reptiles in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Cambridge, Mass. Proc. Amer. Philos. Soc. 24: 278-286. - get paper here
  • Gosse, P. H. 1851. A Naturalist's Sojourn in Jamaica. Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, London. - get paper here
  • Grant, C. 1940. The herpetology of Jamaica Il. The reptiles. Bull. Inst. Jamaica., Sci. Ser. 1: 61-148.
  • 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 - get paper here
  • Harrington, Sean M; Jordyn M de Haan, Lindsey Shapiro, Sara Ruane 2018. Habits and characteristics of arboreal snakes worldwide: arboreality constrains body size but does not affect lineage diversification. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 125 (1): 61–71 - get paper here
  • Hedges, S. Blair; Arnaud Couloux; Vidal, Nicolas 2009. Molecular phylogeny, classification, and biogeography of West Indian racer snakes of the Tribe Alsophiini (Squamata, Dipsadidae, Xenodontinae). Zootaxa 2067: 1-28 - get paper here
  • Henderson R W. Powell R. 1996. Alsophis ater. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (633): 1-2. - get paper here
  • Schwartz, A. & Henderson, R.W. 1991. Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, 720 pp.
  • Tipton, Bob L. 2005. Snakes of the Americas: Checklist and Lexicon. Krieger Publishing Company, Melbourne, Florida [review in Sauria 29 (1): 10]
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Zaher, Hussam; Grazziotin, Felipe Gobbi; Cadle, John E.; Murphy, Robert W.; Moura-Leite, Julio Cesar de; Bonatto, Sandro L 2009. Molecular phylogeny of advanced snakes (Serpentes, Caenophidia) with an emphasis on South American Xenodontines: a revised classification and descriptions of new taxa. Pap. Avulsos Zool. (São Paulo) 49 (11): 115-153 - get paper here
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