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Atractaspis branchi RÖDEL, KUCHARZEWSKI, MAHLOW, CHIRIO, PAUWELS,CARLINO, SAMBOLAH & GLOS, 2019

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Higher TaxaAtractaspididae (Atractaspidinae), Colubroidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesBranch’s Stiletto Snake 
SynonymAtractaspis branchi RÖDEL, KUCHARZEWSKI, MAHLOW, CHIRIO, PAUWELS,CARLINO, SAMBOLAH & GLOS 2019 
DistributionLiberia

Type locality: Liberia, Lofa region, Foya Forest, 08°01'16.2"N, 010°25'31.4"W, 317 m a.s.l., near a small rocky creek in primary lowland rainforest.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. ZMB 88529 (field and tissue number RG97; 16S GenBank MK501382), female, 6 April 2018, coll. M.-O. Rödel, G. Sambolah & J. Glos. Paratype. MSNS Rept 280 (field number 9294X, skull broken; 16S GenBank MK501383), female, Guinea, Nzérékoré Region, Koyakoélé, 07°44'54"N, 009°11'28"W, 393 m a.s.l., 26 December 2011, coll. L. Chirio. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. External morphology, skull anatomy and molecular data (see below) clearly supports the posi- tion within the genus Atractaspis. The new species can be only mistaken morphologically with species from Laurent’s (1950) section ‘D’, his reticulata-group. In particular it differs from all other species of the genus, except A. reticulata and A. corpulenta (including the West African A. c. leucura), by the fusion of the 2nd infralabial with the inframaxillary. From A. corpulenta it differs by a much higher ventral count (276–288 vs 178–208), lower number of dorsal scale rows at mid- body (19 vs 23–29), divided anal plate and subcaudals, and the absence of a white colored tail tip (present in A. c. leucura); from A. reticulata it can be distin- guished by a lower ventral count (276–288 vs 304– 370), and 19 (the paratype has mostly 19 scale rows, but 20 at midbody) dorsal scales rows at midbody (19 scale rows present in the A. reticulata holotype, oth- er vouchers having 21–23 rows) (Table 1). The new species further differs from A. corpulenta by a more slender body and from A. reticulata by a longer tail compared to body length. 
Comment 
EtymologyNamed after William Roy “Bill” Branch (1946–2018), for his outstanding contributions to African herpetology. See Wagner 2019 for biographical notes. 
References
  • Rödel M, Kucharzewski C, Mahlow K, Chirio L, Pauwels OSG, Carlino P, Sambolah G, Glos J 2019. A new stiletto snake (Lamprophiidae, Atractaspidinae, Atractaspis) from Liberia and Guinea, West Africa. Zoosystematics and Evolution 95(1): 107-123 - get paper here
  • Wagner, Philipp 2019. Onkel Bill und sein Leben sind der afrikanischen Herpetologie gewidmet. Uncle Bill and his life dedicated to African Herpetology. Sauria 41 (2): 77 - get paper here
 
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