Authors: BEHZAD FATHINIA, NASRULLAH RASTEGAR-POUYANI, ESKANDAR RASTEGAR POUYANI, FATEMEH TOODEH-DEHGHAN, MEHDI RAJABIZADEH
Abstract: The false horned vipers of the genus Pseudocerastes consist of 3 species; all have been recorded in Iran. These include Pseudocerastes persicus, P. fieldi, and P. urarachnoides. Morphologically, the taxonomic border between P. fieldi and P. persicus is not as clear as that between P. urarachnoides and P. persicus or P. fieldi. Regarding the weak diagnostic characters differentiating P. fieldi from P. persicus and very robust characters separating P. urarachnoides from both, there may arise some uncertainty in the exact taxonomic status of P. urarachnoides and whether it should remain at the current specific level or be elevated to a distinct genus. Based on our sequence data from the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, the taxonomic status of the 3 false horned vipers is confirmed. Although P. fieldi has equal genetic distance from P. persicus and P. urarachnoides, the spider-tailed viper is more closely related to P. persicus than P. fieldi. There are also some subdivisions among the populations of P. persicus in Iran.
Keywords: Cytochrome \beta, genetic divergence, molecular systematics, Pseudocerastes, Viperidae, Iran
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