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Your Position :Home->Past Journals Catalog->1995 Vol.14 No.2

The Proper Generic Name for The Asian Wolf Snakes:Lycodon (Serpentes:Colubridae)
Author of the article:Kraig ADLER1, ZHAO Er-mi2
Author's Workplace:(1. Cornell University, Seeley G. Mudd Hall, Ncurobiology and Behavior, Ithaca, NY 14853-2702, USA; 2. Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041)
Key Words:Lycodon; Ophites
Abstract:
    The wolf snakes comprise a group of about two dozen species that range from southern Turkmenistan and Iran through south Asia to central and southern China (including Taiwan), Japan (Ryukyu Islands), Indochina, and the Indo-Australian Archipelago (including the Philippines, Borneo, and the Celebes). Following Smith (1943: 255), most workers have utilized the generic name Lycodon and credited it to H. Boie (1826). In our recent book “Herpetology of China” (Zhao and Adler, 1993: 246), however, we noted that Boie referred three species to Lycodon but designated none of them as type. The following year his brother, F. Boie (1827), designated Coluber audax Daudin as the type of Lycodon but since this species is a synonym of a South American snake unrelated to the wolf snakes, we were compelled to choose the next available generic name (Ophites Wagler, 1830) and used it in our book for all five Chinese species (aulicus, fasciatus, laoensis, ruhstrati, and subcinctus). In doing so, however, we erred, because the name Lycodon was actually published a few months earlier and with a proper designation of type species.
    Fitzinger (1826) first introduced the name Lycodon on pages 30 and 57, where it is credited to Boie (from the text on page 30, Heinrich Boie is inferred). On page 57, Fitzinger mentions three species of Lycodon: unicolor, aulicus, and capucinus. At that time, unicolor and capucinus were nomina nuda and thus unavailable names. Smith (1943: 263) listed both names as synonymous with aulicus, but Taylor (1965) recognized capucinus as a species distinct from aulicus. In any event, on page 30Fitzinger wrote what we believe is an acceptable designation of type species. He stated (in translation) “Thus, Boie created the following generaLycodon from Coluber aulicus Linné…” Brongersma et al. (1966) provided convincing evidence that Fitzinger (1826) was published prior to Boie (1826), perhaps by only one or two months. Thus, the proper generic name for the wolf snakes is Lycodon H. Boie in Fitzinger, 1826 (type species: Coluber aulicus Linnaeus, 1758).
    Acknowledgments. We are grateful to Michihisa Toriba for bringing the order of publication of Fitzinger 1826 and Boie 1826 to our attention. Hobart M. Smith kindly commented on nomenclatorial issues.
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