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RE: Elaphe or Pantherophis?

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Posted by: aspidoscelis at Thu Jan 12 21:39:26 2012  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by aspidoscelis ]  
   

Well, the answer to your question is "both".

The ICZN is simply a set of rules governing the correct publication of names and various related matters. It does not decide between alternative classifications. Both "Elaphe" and "Pantherophis" and, for particular species, "Elaphe guttata" and "Pantherophis guttatus", "Elaphe obsoleta" and "Pantherophis obsoletus", etc., have, from the point of view of the rules of the ICZN, precisely equal validity.

If you want to know if you should call a corn snake "Pantherophis guttatus" or "Elaphe guttata", that's a question the ICZN does not answer. You have two basic choices in answering it: 1) "go with the flow" and use whichever name is typically used by the people you associate with or is advocated by a particular herpetological society; 2) read the publications and make up your own mind. Following option "2", my own opinion is that "Pantherophis" is the correct genus for the various U.S. critters recently placed in Elaphe (except Senticolis triaspis, Bogertophis subocularis, and Bogertophis rosaliae). This opinion seems to be shared by most professional herpetologists as well, although I'm not sure how widespread it is in the hobbyist community.


   

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