Not so rare snakes: a revision of the Geophis sieboldi group (Colubridae: Dipsadinae) in lower Central America and Colombia


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The Geophis sieboldi species group is composed of 16 currently recognized species distributed from Mexico to Colombia. Within this group, snakes of populations referred to the Geophis brachycephalus complex of lower Central America and Colombia display a remarkable polychromatism and the systematic status of these and other populations is problematic. The present study provides an analysis, including multivariate techniques, of variation in scalation, coloration, relative tail length and hemipenes to clarify the specific allocation of the populations belonging to this clade. Our results confirm the validity of three previously described taxa, namely G. brachycephalus, G. nigroalbus and G. talamancae, with reassignments of several populations previously referred to G. brachycephalus. In addition we recognize as a new species a suite of western Panama Geophis previously of uncertain status. We further provide a review of all other members of the G. sieboldi group in lower Central America and Colombia based on material obtained since the last revision of the group. Basic synonymies, diagnostics and known distributions are included for the treated taxa. Dietary guild, possible venomous coral snake mimicry and distributional anomalies for the group are discussed. © 2008 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2008, 153, 561–599.