Bulletin of the Natural History Museum: Zoology

Review of the Dispholidini, with the description of a new genus and species from Tanzania (Serpentes, Colubridae)

D.G. BROADLEY a1p1 and V. WALLACH a2
a1 Research Associate, Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
a2 Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A. email: vwallach@oeb.harvard.edu


The tribe Dispholidini (Bourgeois 1968) is reviewed, paying particular attention to dentition and visceral anatomy. A new genus and species, Xyelodontophis uluguruensis, is described from the Uluguru Mountains in Tanzania. All five genera have enlarged rear maxillary teeth. Thrasops seems to be basal, Rhamnophis shows the development of dagger-like teeth tapering from base to tip, then the other three genera appear to radiate, with Xyelodontophis having more derived dagger teeth broadest in the middle, while Dispholidus and Thelotornis seem to have independently developed enlarged grooved rear fangs.

Thrasops schmidti is recognised as a relict evolutionary species. No subspecies of Rhamnophis aethiopissa or Dispholidus typus are recognised, but the population of Dispholidus on Pemba Island probably represents an undescribed species.

p1 Present address: Biodiversity Foundation for Africa, P.O. Box FM 730 Famona, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. email:broadley@telconet.co.zw