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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Common NamesBlack forest cobra 
SynonymNaja (Boulengerina) guineensis BROADLEY, TRAPE, CHIRIO, INEICH & WÜSTER in WÜSTER et al. 2018: 79
Naia melanoleuca var. B, C — BOULENGER 1896: 376 (part.) (not HALLOWELL)
Naja sp. 2 cf. melanoleuca (blackish dorsum) — TRAPE & BALDÉ 2014: 318
Naja sp. 2 cf. melanoleuca (forest form) — TRAPE & BALDÉ 2014: 336 
DistributionTogo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Guinea (Trape & Baldé, 2014), Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau (single record from Contuboel)

Type locality: N’Zébéla, Macenta Prefecture, Nzérékoré region of forested southeastern Guinea (8°05’N, 9° 05’W), elevation 490 m.  
TypesHolotype: MNHN 1921.0485, a male, Coll. Paul Chabanaud (1876–1959) between 1919–1920 (Chabanaud, 1921: 471) (Fig. 5 in Wüster et al. 2018). Paratype: BMNH 1960.1.3.72, a male from Njala, Kori, Sierra Leone, Coll. C.T. Pyne. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Naja guineensis can be distinguished from the partly sympatric N. savannula sp. nov. by lacking extended dorsal banding, often having 17 rather than 19 dorsal scale rows at midbody, a generally lower subcaudal scale count, fewer ventral bands, a lesser posterior extent of the ventral banding, and a strong tendency towards melanism in adults. Specimens with 19 midbody dorsal scale rows can be distinguished from N. melanoleuca through the reduced number of ventral bands, lesser posterior extent of banding and tendency of ontogenetic melanism from N. subfulva in lacking a lighter anterior dorsum and through ontogenetic melanism, and from N. peroescobari in having the posterior chin shields in contact.
CommentDistribution: see map in Wüster et al. 2018: 81 (Fig. 6). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet guineensis means “from Guinea” and is chosen to reflect the distribution of the species in the Upper Guinea forests of West Africa, part of the West African Forests biodiversity hotspot (Myers et al., 2000). 
  • WÜSTER, WOLFGANG; LAURENT CHIRIO, JEAN-FRANÇOIS TRAPE, IVAN INEICH, KATE JACKSON, ELI GREENBAUM, CESAR BARRON, CHIFUNDERA KUSAMBA, ZOLTÁN T. NAGY, RICHARD STOREY, CARA HALL, CATHARINE E. WÜSTER, AXEL BARLOW, DONALD G. BROADLEY 2018. Integration of nuclear and mitochondrial gene sequences and morphology reveals unexpected diversity in the forest cobra (Naja melanoleuca) species complex in Central and West Africa (Serpentes: Elapidae). Zootaxa 4455 (1): 068–098 - get paper here
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