Venomous Snake

Systematics Alert

Wolfgang Wüster , School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor

Bothrops atrox 
Bothrops atrox

The aim of this page is to provide regular updates on developments in the systematics of venomous snakes for the benefit of toxinological and medical researchers, as well as herpetoculturists and other interested individuals.


Copyright notice: All photos on these pages belong to the person(s) to whom they are credited. You may download them for your own personal use. If you wish to use any of these photos for publication, whether in print or in a web page, please contact the copyright holder. The fee for using any of these photos in a publication or a website without prior arrangement is £200 (= US$ 300) per photo. Unauthorised usage of any photos from these pages constitutes agreement to these terms.


"Taxonomy is a matter of personal opinion..."
H.G. Cogger, 1985, quoted in Golay et al., 1993.

"Taxonomy is a matter of consensus..."
Golay, 1993

"Taxonomy is a matter of evidence... "
Wüster , 2002

These pages follow on from a discontinued series of articles by David A. Warrell, Philippe Golay and myself in the journal Toxicon. The information provided here will include new species descriptions, as well as systematic revisions of existing taxa. In particular, I aim to make this information accessible to a non-specialist readership by putting changes into context with previously used nomenclature of venomous snakes. I hope these pages will be useful to a variety of users.

Lists of species of various genera, with further literature references, can be found on-line in the EMBL Living Reptiles Database

Note that the main idea of this page is to provide a guide to the current systematic literature, and to enable readers to seek out relevant papers themselves for more detailed information. It is NOT intended to provide fully comprehensive information on every new species or every taxonomic change - for this, the reader will have to consult the original papers. Note also that I am unable to supply copies of publications listed here to third parties. Reprints of many publications can be obtained from their authors. Authors' postal or e-mail addresses for many of the papers listed here are available from Breck Bartholomew's Herpetological Contents website (highly recommended). You may also find their addresses in the CNAH/CH Directory of Herpetologists.

If you find any omissions or errors in this compilation, then please let me know (Caution: remove anti-spam device before sending).


To reduce file sizes and download times, the updates are grouped by year and by (sub-) family of snakes covered. All pages last modified 1 July 2001 unless stated otherwise.



2009 Publications


Elapidae - Revision of Pseudonaja, recognition of P. aspidorhyncha and P. mengdeni; revision of Naja haje complex, description of Naja senegalensis. Updated 21/09/2009


Crotalinae - Subdivision of Bothrops; revision of Hypnale, recognition of H. zara. Updated 21/09/2009


Viperinae - Description of Atheris mabuensis; revision of Echis Updated 06/01/2010



2008 Publications


Colubridae - Description of Phalotris sansebastiani. Updated 07/08/2009


Elapidae - Description of Calliophis haematoetron. Updated 21/09/2009


Crotalinae - Ceratrimeresurus shenlii synonymised with Protobothrops cornutus; Trimeresurus truongsonensis assigned to Viridovipera; description of Bothrops marmoratus, Crotalus ericsmithi, Cryptelytrops hongsonensis, and Atropoides indomitus. Updated 16/07/2009



2007 Publications

Colubridae -  Description of Hydrodynastes melanogigas. Updated 22/04/2008


Elapidae - Description of Oxyuranus temporalis and Micrurus silviae; Bungarus javanicus synonymised with B. candidus; revision of Walterinnesia and recognition of W. morgani; description of Naja ashei; Boulengerina and Paranaja synonymised with Naja; Naja nigricincta recognised as separate species; revision of the Demansia olivacea/torquata complexes. Updated 16/07/2009


Crotalinae - Description of Tropidolaemus laticinctus; Crotalus stephensi recognised as full species; Tropidolaemus subannulatus and T. philippensis recognised as full species; Triceratolepidophis and Zhaoermia synonymised with Protobothrops. Updated 22/04/2008

Viperinae - Revision of Russell's viper complex, recognition of Daboia siamensis. Updated 22/04/2008



2006 Publications


Atractaspididae - Revision of Atractaspis microlepidota group in W. Africa. Last updated 07/03/2007


Elapidae - Revision of the Laticauda colubrina complex, with the description of Laticauda saintgironsi. Aspidelaps lubricus infuscatus synonymised with A. l. cowlesi. Last updated 07/12/2006.


Crotalinae - Revision of the Trimeresurus puniceus complex with the description of T. andalasensis. Description of Popeia buniana. Last updated 07/12/2006.


Viperinae - Description of Pseudocerastes urarachnoides. Last updated 07/03/2007




2005 Publications


Colubridae - Boiga ocellata synonymised with Boiga siamensis. Description of Boiga ranawanei. Last updated 07/03/2007


Elapidae - Phylogeny and revision of  Acanthophis and Pseudechis; revision of Notechis; phylogeography of the Pseudechis australis complex; revision of Micrurus surinamensis; revision of the Laticauda colubrina complex; description of Bungarus slowinskii, Boulengerina synonymised with Naja. Last updated 07/12/2006.


Crotalinae - Phylogeography and revision of Crotalus durissus complex; revision of Bothriopsis oligolepis, B. peruviana and B. chloromelas; revision of the nomenclature of the Crotalus durissus complex. Last updated 05/04/2006



2004 Publications


Elapidae - Naja anchietae recognised as full species; description of Micrurus tamaulipensis. Last updated 25/01/2005

Crotalinae - Description of Crotalus tancitarensis; Trimeresurus cornutus redescribed and transferred to Protobothrops. Chocoan bushmaster recognised as separate species; reclassification of the Crotalus durissus complex; revision of the Bothrops neuwiedi complex, with recognition of seven species; Zhaoermia as a replacement name for Ermia; revision of Asiatic pitvipers of the Trimeresurus complex, with revalidation of the genera Parias and Cryptelytrops, and description of the genera Viridovipera, Himalayophis, Popeia and Garthius. Description of Trimeresurus truongsonensis, T. fucatus, T. nebularis and Popeia inornata.  Last updated 22/12/2004

Viperinae - Description of Echis omanensis. Last updated 24/07/2004



2003 Publications

Colubridae - Description of Boiga bengkuluensis and Clelia hussami; Texas lyre snake elevated to species, Trimorphodon vilkinsonii.
Last updated 27/01/2004

Elapidae - Description of Naja nubiae. Last updated 08/04/2003

Crotalinae - Phylogeography and revision of Crotalus horridus; phylogeny, phylogeography and systematics of Atropoides; Trimeresurus karanshahi synonymised with T. tibetanus; description of Porthidium porrasi. Last updated 20/07/2004

Viperinae - Description of Echis coloratus terraesanctae.  Last updated 16/12/2003


2002 Publications

Colubridae - Revision of  southern African Psammophis with recognition of P. trinasalis, namibensis, orientalis, leopardinus and brevirostris as full species; description of Xyelodontophis uluguruensis, Boiga tanahjampeana and Psammophis zambiensis. Last updated 27/01/2004.

Elapidae - Description of Micrurus pacaraimae.  Last updated 16/10/2002

Crotalinae - Revision of the Crotalus viridis complex with recognition of seven species; description of Trimeresurus gumprechti and Bothrops alcatraz. Last updated 31/10/2003

Viperinae - Description of Atheris hirsuta.  Last updated 02/09/2002

2001 Publications

Colubridae- Revision of Thelotornis - description of T. usambaricus, T. mossambicanus raised to full species. Last updated 23/04/2002

Elapidae - Description of Hydrophis sibauensis; revision of Oriental coral snakes: synonymisation of Maticora with Calliophis, description of new genus Sinomicrurus. Last updated 14/09/2001.

Crotalinae - Description of Agkistrodon bilineatus lemosespinali; description of genus Bothrocophias and the new species Bothrocophias myersi; Bothrops pradoi synonymised with B. leucurus; description of Bothrops muriciensis; revision of the Trimeresurus albolabris complex; revision of Crotalus viridis; description of Trimeresurus vogeli. Updated 28/02/2003

Viperinae - Phylogeny of the Viperinae - synonymy of Adenorhinos with Atheris, revision of Vipera, Macrovipera and Daboia; revalidation of Atheris subocularis; status of Vipera barani and V. pontica; description of Vipera orlovi and Vipera magnifica; revision of Vipera ursinii complex. Last updated 30/08/2002

2000 Publications

Elapidae - Revision of Drysdalia+Elapognathus and Echiopsis/Paroplocephalus; descriptions of the new species Hydrophis laboutei, Micrurus pachecogili, Naja mandalayensis and Pailsus rossignolii. Last updated 31/10/2003.

Crotalinae - Revisions of Agkistrodon bilineatus and Crotalus viridis complexes; description of new genus Triceratolepidophis and new species T. sieversorum; description of new species Bothriechis thalassinus; the scientific name of the red diamondback rattlesnake: Crotalus ruber. Updated 27/11/2001

Viperinae - Revision of Atheris squamigera-anisolepis complex.

1999 Publications

Colubridae - Revision of Rhabdophis.

Elapidae - Revisions of Hemibungarus/Calliophis japonicus complex and Micrurus frontalis complex; description of new species Elapsoidea trapei from Senegal. Last updated 06/09/2001

Crotalinae - Revision of Bothrops atrox complex; description of new species Cerrophidion petlalcalensis; nomenclature of Bothrops campbelli, B. albocarinatus, and B. pulcher; revision of Gloydius.  Last updated 1/10/2002.

Viperinae - Phylogeny and revision of Bitis; revision of Bitis cornuta-inornata complex; revision of Cerastes with description of two new subspecies; revision of Vipera xanthina-raddei complex with description of new subgenus for the complex; description of new species Atheris broadleyi.

1998 Publications

Elapidae - Revision of Acanthophis with description of five new species and one subspecies; revision of Demansia; revision of Elapsoidea semiannulata complex; descriptions of Pailsus pailsei and Simoselaps morrisi. Last updated 19/08/2001.

Crotalinae - Revisions of Bothriechis schlegelii and Trimeresurus sumatranus; transfer of Mexican black-tailed pitviper from Porthidium to Ophryacus. Last updated 27/07/2001.

Viperinae - Description of Atheris acuminata.

Key Venomous Snake Systematics References

The following are the currently most important references covering either all or most groups of venomous snakes, including information on distribution and systematics. The three volumes are similar in many respects, but differ in their emphasis on aspects covered.

  • David, P. & I. Ineich (1999) Les serpents venimeux du monde: systématique et répartition. Dumerilia, 3: 3-499. (bilingual, English and French; focussed particularly on distribution; many commentaries on systematic problems).
  • Golay, P., H.M. Smith, D.G. Broadley, J.R. Dixon, C. McCarthy, J.-C. Rage, B. Schätti & M. Toriba. 1993. Endoglyphs and Other Major Venomous Snakes of the World. A Checklist. Azemiops, Geneva. (focussed primarily on synonymies)
  • McDiarmid, R.W., J.A. Campbell & T. Touré (1999) Snake Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. The Herpetologists' League, Washington D.C. (covers Viperidae; other venomous taxa to be covered in future volumes focussed primarily on synonymies, with comments on systematic problems).

Venomous Snake Links

The various links on venomous snakes, herpetology and systematics have been moved to a new page


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