Hypsirhynchus melanichnus (Cope, 1862)

La Vega racer



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Alsophis melanichnus Cope, 1862; Ocyophis melanichnus Cope, 1862


"Cochran (1941) noted that Hypsirhynchus melanichnus differs from species in the eastern Caribbean (genera Alsophis and Borikenophis) in lacking a furrow on the side of the head at the upper border of the upper labials. In scale counts it differs from the genera Ialtris and Magliophis in having 17 midbody scale rows (not 19 rows), and from the Genus Borikenophis in having 102 subcaudals (not 106–145). Hypsirhynchus melanichnus also has relatively large posterior upper labials compared with Borikenophis portoricensis, and is closer in that sense to the Genus Hypsirhynchus. Considering all of the morphological evidence, and while recognizing it is not strong, we tentatively assign H. melanichnus to the Genus Hypsirhynchus. In terms of biogeography, such an assignment also makes sense because other species of the genus are distributed in Hispaniola."

(Hedges et al. 2009:18)


Conservation Status


Last record: 1910

IUCN status: Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)



Hispaniola, the Caribbean


Biology & Ecology




The whereabouts of the holotype are unknown.






Original scientific description:

Cope, E. D. (1862). Synopsis of the species of Holcosus and Ameiva, with diagnoses of new West Indian and South American Colubridae. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia 14: 60-82.


Other references:

Burbrink, Frank T., Ruane, Sara and Pyron, R. Alexander. (2012). When are adaptive radiations replicated in areas? Ecological opportunity and unexceptional diversification in West Indian dipsadine snakes (Colubridae: Alsophiini). Journal of Biogeography 39: 465–475.

Hedges, S. Blair, Couloux, Arnaud and Vidal, Nicolas. (2009). Molecular phylogeny, classification, and biogeography of West Indian racer snakes of the Tribe Alsophiini (Squamata, Dipsadidae, Xenodontinae). Zootaxa 2067: 1-28.

Landestoy, M., Inchaustegui, S., Henderson, R.W. & Hedges, B. (2016). Hypsirhynchus melanichnus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T190581A71748241. Downloaded on 17 December 2016.

Powell, Robert and Henderson, Robert W. (1998). Alsophis melanichnus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles 660: 1-2.

Powell, Robert and Henderson, Robert W. (2012). Island lists of West Indian amphibians and reptiles. Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History 51(2): 85-166. [considers this taxon possibly extinct]

Regalado, Pedro Galán. (2015). Los Anfibios y Reptiles Extinguidos: Herpetofauna Desaparecida Desde el Año 1500. Monografías de la Universidade da Coruña 155: 1-509.

Zaher, H., Grazziotin, F.G., Cadle, J.E., Murphy, R.W., Moura-Leite, J.C. & Bonatto, S.L. (2009). Molecular phylogeny of advanced snakes (Serpentes, Caenophidia) with an emphasis on South America xenodontines: a revised classification and descriptions of new taxa. Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia 49:115–153.


<< Back to the Ophidia (Serpentes) database