African snake-eaters of the genus Polemon are cryptic, fossorial snakes that mainly inhabit the forests of central, eastern, and western Africa. Molecular results from a previous study demonstrated that Polemon christyi is not monophyletic—two distinct lineages were recovered from Uganda (the type locality) and southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Genetic data indicated differences in sequence divergence and encoded amino acids between these lineages. Based on these molecular differences and diagnostic differences in morphology, we describe the lineage from southeastern DRC as a new species. Literature records indicate that it likely occurs in adjacent Tanzania and Zambia. It is the first species of Polemon to be described in over 70 years.
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Vol. 107 • No. 1