Despite the recent advances in the systematics of snakes, the diversity of several Neotropical groups of species remains poorly understood. The lack of studies focused on the phylogenetic relationship within most of the 20 tribes of Dipsadidae precludes a better understanding of the evolution of this diverse family. Here, we present a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of Tachymenini, a heterogeneous tribe that comprises 36 viviparous species of dipsadids, grouped in seven genera based on morphological similarities. The tribe is widely distributed throughout South America presenting very distinctive phenotypes, habitats, and behaviours. The phylogenetic relationship among tachymenins is a well-recognized challenge regarding the systematics of the South American dipsadids. The similar morphotype of some generalist species, combined with the very derived morphology of some strict specialists, creates a complexity of traits that has prevented the comprehension of the systematics of the group. To address such a challenge, we combine molecular (six loci) and morphological (70 characters) datasets in an integrative phylogenetic approach. The resultant phylogenetic trees indicate, with strong support, that three of the seven current recognized genera (Tachymenis, Tomodon, and Thamnodynastes) are non-monophyletic and, consequently, we propose a new systematic arrangement for Tachymenini. We revalidate two genera, Dryophylax and Mesotes, and we describe three additional monotypic genera, Apographon gen. n., Tachymenoides gen. n., and Zonateres gen. n. to accommodate Tomodon orestes, Tachymenis affinis, and Thamnodynastes lanei, respectively. We also include Tomodon ocellatus and Pseudotomodon trigonatus in Tachymenis and describe a new genus, Galvarinus gen. n., to accommodate the Tachymenis chilensis species group. Furthermore, we also provide an evolutionary scenario for the speciation events based on a time-calibrated tree, commenting on the diversification and origin of the tribe, and on the probable existence of undescribed species of Mesotes and Dryophylax.
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ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Molecular Biology