The Crooked-Acklins Bank, a component of the southern Bahamas Archipelago, supports a terrestrial herpetofauna largely in common with other islands in the region, including a boid snake. This boa, Chilabothrus chrysogaster schwartzi (Buden, 1975), was considered a subspecies of the Southern Bahamas Boa complex (Chilabothrus chrysogaster), although the original description was based on limited specimen material. As the author of the original description used recently deceased specimens collected by locals, no description of living animals exists. Since its description in 1975 and the associated collection of four type specimens, no additional boas from Crooked-Acklins have been reported in the literature. In addition, to the best of our knowledge, no photographs of live specimens have been published, and no juveniles have been described. For these reasons, it has been suggested that the subspecies is either extremely rare or possibly extirpated from the bank. Here we report the first four living boas from the Crooked-Acklins Bank, including both juveniles and an adult. We present the first photographs of and morphological data from live wild specimens, including habitat descriptions and natural history observations. We conducted a phylogenetic analysis of these boas using maximum-likelihood and Bayesian approaches, as well as divergence time analyses, finding that the Crooked-Acklins Boa is a distinct species sister to the recently described Silver Boa (C. argentum), and is not closely related to C. chrysogaster populations. The distinctness of this taxon is also supported by known morphological and meristic characters. We describe the species as the Crooked-Acklins Boa, elevating the epithet C. schwartzi (Buden, 1975) comb. nov. to refer to boas of this genus from the Crooked and Acklins banks, Bahamas—the 13th species of Chilabothrus. We further assess the systematics of the Southern Bahamas Boa (C. chrysogaster) and the central Bahamas boas (C. strigilatus, C. argentum, and C. schwartzi) with novel sequence data for these lineages.
Vol. 558 • No. 1
Vol. 558 • No. 1