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Atractus ayeush ESQUEDA, 2011

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymAtractus ayeush ESQUEDA 2011 
DistributionVenezuela (Lara)

Type locality: at the stream “Quebrada La Concepción”, sector 5, San Felipe, near Finca El Cocorucho, approx. 10°36’95”N and 69°29’62”W. Elevation 1050 m, Municipio Urdaneta, Lara State, Venezuela.  
TypesHolotype: ULABG 5461, Juvenile female, collected by Luis Felipe Esqueda on 27 December 2002. 
DiagnosisDefinition and diagnosis: This Atractus can be distinguished from the rest of its congeners distributed in Venezuela by the combination of the following morphological and morphometric characters: (1) 17-17-17 dorsal scales, lacking apical spits, first paraventral row not enlarged; (2) rostral slightly visible when viewed from above; (3) loreal long, approximately three times longer than high, with latero-inferior edge slightly straight; (4) internasals with similar sides, almost squared; (5) frontal scale length shorter than DR; (6) 1+2 temporal formula, first temporal scale disposed between fifth and sixth supralabials (1.2 mm long), 0.4 mm shorter than second posterior temporal adjacent to supralabials; (7) 7(3,4)/7(3,4) supralabials; (8) 7(4)/7(4) infralabials; (9) 155 ventral scales; (10) 23/23 subcaudal scales; (11) dorsum reddish-brown in life; (12) belly reddish in life, with a midventral row of black dots, better defined towards the first third of venter; (13) cloacal scale slightly sprinkled with dark brown, subcaudals completely stained with dark brown; (14) 6/6 maxillary teeth; (15) caudal spine absent; (16) 183 ventrals + subcaudals.
Atractus ayeush is readily distinguished from all species in the genus having 15 dorsal scales at midbody, by possesing 17 dorsals. Of those species having 17 dorsals scales at midbody, it is easily differentiated from the ones possessing lines and/or cross blotches on the dorsum of the body, by having a uniform dorsum without lines or blotches. The new species differs from the other Atractus with 17 scales at midbody and not possessing lines or cross blotches on the dorsum, as follows: A. fuliginosus (Hallowell, 1845), A. guentheri (Wucherer, 1861), A. ronnie Passos et al., 2007and A. surucucu Passos and Prudente, 2008, since these have inmaculate belly (spotted in the new species) (Roze 1966, Passos et al. 2007, Prudente and Passos 2008); from A. modestus Boulenger, 1894 and A. natans Hoogmoed and Prudente, 2003; since these have a pale nuchal collar (absent in the new species)(Hoogmoed and Prudente 2003, Passos et al. 2007a); Atractus thalesdelemai Passos et al., 2005 and A. lucilae Silva Haad, 2004, have one postocular (Silva Haad 2004, Passos et al. 2005)(while the new species have two).
Comparatively, A. acheronius Passos et al., 2009; A. eriki Esqueda et al., 2007; A. macondo, and A. matthewi, can be confused with the new species by sharing some attributes. In this regard, Atractus ayeush sp. nov. can be distinguished from A. acheronius and A. macondo, since these have three infralabial scales in contact with geneials and a caudal spine (Passos et al. 2008, Passos et al. 2009b) (while the new species have four scales in contact, and caudal spine absent); Atractus eriki Esqueda et al., 2007 has a cream belly, two posterior supratemporal scales and latero-inferior edge of the loreal scale concave (while the new species has a reddish belly, one elongated supratemporal scale and latero-inferior edge of the loreal scale nearly straight). Finally, the new species can be differentiated from Atractus matthewi, since this species has the ventrolateral dorsal scale rows 1 and 2 consisting of scales with both brown and the pale cream color of the surface, pale brown spots on each parietal, ventral surface with pale and dark transverse bands and the latero-inferior edge of the loreal concave (Markezich and Barrios-Amorós 2004), as opposed to the new species, which possesses the dorsum and laterodorsal scales adjacent to the ventral scales uniformly brown, ventral pattern without bands, but showing dark rounded blotches towards midventral surface of the body, and having the latero-inferior edge of loreal scale slightly straight.
According to phenetic characters observed, as well as the current diversity of the genus Atractus coming from highland environments that seems to respond to a pattern of allopatric speciation (geographical replacement of species) and the current knowledge concerning most of species in Venezuela (compa- xxx rative analysis), there are arguments conclusive to justify a description in this taxon based on the single specimen known. 
CommentNot listed by WALLACH et al. 2014.

Etymology“The specific name, used here as a noun in apposition, is derived from the word “ayeush”, of masculine gender, which means “brother” in the language of the Ayamanes (Ayama, or Yama, or Wayama)(Querales 2001), an Arawak ethnic group whose territory extended to current municipalities of the Falcón State (Democracia, Sucre, Federación and Unión) and Lara State (Irribaren, Torres, Crespo and Urdaneta), where it is located the Serranía de Parupano, type locality of the new species. The name is meant to be dedicated to my late friend and appreciated colleague Rommel Azuaje, outstanding member of the Forest Fireman Group of the University of The Andes deceased in 2006” [ESQUESDA 2011] 
  • Natera-Mumaw, Marco; Luis Felipe Esqueda-González & Manuel Castelaín-Fernández 2015. Atlas Serpientes de Venezuela. Santiago de Chile, Dimacofi Negocios Avanzados S.A., 456 pp. - get paper here
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