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Dasypeltis bazi SALEH & SARHAN, 2016

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Egyptian egg-eating snake, Baz’ egg-eating snake 
SynonymDasypeltis bazi SALEH & SARHAN 2016
Dasypeltis scabra — ANDERSON 1898
Dasypeltis scabra — FLOWER 1933
Dasypeltis scabra — MARX 1968
Dasypeltis scabra — SALEH 1997
Dasypeltis scabra — REHÁK & OSBOURNE 1998
Dasypeltis scabra — BAHA EL DIN 2006.
Dasypeltis cf. scabra — SINDACO et al. 2013
Dasypeltis cf. scabra — GENIEZ 2015
Dasypeltis bazi — BATES & BROADLEY 2018: 18 
DistributionEgypt (Faiyum)

Type locality: Abu-Gandir, Faiyum Governorate, Egypt (29°15’ 12’’ N, 30°40 ́35’’ E  
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesHolotype: AUZC R09458, adult female (Al Azhar University Zoological Collection), (Fig. 3 in Saleh & Sarhan 2016), Collected September 2009. Paratypes: Seven specimens, all collected in central Faiyum, in the general vicinity of the village of Ibshwai, Egypt (Tab. I). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A snake belonging to the genus Dasypeltis (elliptic vertical pupils, small head not demarked of the body, strongly keeled dorsal scales, the flank scales strongly serrated, all species highly specialized for eating bird eggs), characterized by a fewer, large dorsal rhombic blotches (38-49) and smaller lateral roundish blotches (not vertical baring-shaped as other species), by the no well-defined color pattern on the head and fewer dorsal scale rows. Frontal shield longer than wide (as long as wide in other species), temporals 2+3, the lowest first temporal greatly elongated, 1.5 to twice as long as upper temporal (only occasionally enlarged in D. scabra) and one preocular (from SALEH & SARHAN 2016).

Comparison: In comparison to Dasypeltis scabra of eastern, central and southern Africa (Corkill 1935, Loveridge 1956, Largen & Rasmussen 1993, Chippaux 2006, Trape & Mané 2006, Trape et al. 2012, Trailin 2012), the new species has fewer and larger dorsal rhombs (38-49 in bazi, 49-60 in Dasypeltis spp. of West and Central Africa and more than 50 in those of Mauritania to East Africa). The cephalic surface in the Egyptian Dasypeltis is unpatterned, heavily covered with dark, irregular blotches and lacks the characteristic cephalic V marking of other species. The new species has a more rounded snout, giving the head a somewhat rectangular shape (Figs. 3, 4 and 5). Frontal shield in D. bazi is considerably longer than wide (as long as wide in other species). Temporal formula 2+3, the lowest first temporal in all our D. bazi specimens is greatly elongated, 1.5 to twice as long as upper temporal but only occasionally enlarged in scabra. In all our specimens there is only one preocular while in other species it varies from one to three (Gans 1959). D. bazi sp. nov. also differs in having fewer dorsal scale rows (18-24) than Dasypeltis spp. of both eastern and central Africa (23- 24 for Somaliland, 23-27 for Sudan, 23-26 for southern Sudan, 20-28 for Ethiopia and Eritrea and 21-27 for southern Africa) (Corkill 1935, Parker 1949, Loveridge 1955, 1959, Chippaux 2006, Trape & Mané 2006, Trailin 2012).
Dasypeltis bazi sp. nov. can be distinguished from all other Dasypeltis species with the “non-linked scabra” (NL scabra) color pattern (Gans 1959, Trape et al. 2012), by its dorsal and lateral rhombs (Figs. 5) that are fewer in number (38-45) and larger in size and its fewer dorsal scale rows (21-24, 20-22, 18-20 in the anterior, mid- and posterior body regions respectively).
From D. abyssina of Ethiopia and Eritrea (Largen & Rasmussen 1993, Chippaux 2006, Trape & Mané 2006, Trailin 2012, Trape et al. 2012, Hoser 2013), the new species differs in its distinct markings on the head and body, wide blotches on the sides (narrow vertical stripes in D. abyssina), distinct barring on the upper labials (Figs. 5), and its fewer ventral scales (213-230 in D. bazi, 260 for the holotype of D. abyssina, and as high as 273 for a female from Eritrea).
The new species can also be distinguished from D. lineolata, which has typical “NL scabra pattern”, by its fewer and larger dorsal rhombs and higher dorsal, ventral and sub- caudal scale counts (in D. lineolata: 21-27, 207-237 and 45-67 respectively), moderately elongated temporals (the two anterior temporals very elongate in D. lineolata) and parietals not longer than frontal and prefrontal together (Stejneger 1893, Trape & Mané 2006).
From the newly described Dasypeltis saeizadi Hoser, 2013, of Arabia (see Hoser 2013), which also exhibits “NL scabra color pattern”, D. bazi sp. nov. differs in having well defined white patches interspersing the dorsal midline blotches and the clear barring on the upper labials (Figs. 5).
From D. sahelensis Trape & Mané, 2006 of the Sahel and Morocco and D. parascabra Trape, Mediannikov & Trape, 2012 of West Africa, both exhibiting “NL scabra color pattern”, D. bazi can be separated by having semi-divided nasals (see Trape et al. 2012 for detailed description and variation of D. parascabra).
The new species can be distinguished from other Dasypeltis species with color patterns other than “NL scabra”, in addition to its color pattern, by a number of meristic and color characters. From D. fasciata Smith, 1849 of West and Central Africa (Chippaux 2006, Trape et al. 2012), D. bazi differs in its light color skin between dorsal scales and white ventrum. Ventrals, subcaudals and dorsal scale rows average fewer in D. bazi than in D. fasciata. From D. gansi Trape & Mané, 2006 and D. latericia Trape & Mané, 2006, it differs in its wide, distinct lateral blotches (narrow or indistinct bars in D. gansi and D. latericia) and light color skin between dark dorsal and lateral scales. From D. medici (Bianconi, 1859) of East Africa (Gans 1957, 1959, Trape & Mané 2006, Trailin 2012, Trape et al. 2012) D. bazi differs in its larger and wider dorsal and lateral rhombs (narrow stripes in D. medici) and fewer dorsal scale rows. From D. confusa Trape and Mané, 2006 of the Guinean and Sudan savannah, the new species differs in having fewer and larger dorsal rhombs, fewer dorsal scale rows. From D. atra Sternfeld, 1912 of east and central African humid montane forests (Trailin 2012, Trape & Mané 2006), D. bazi differs in its contrasting color pattern (D. atra with uniform or nearly uniform color with very light dorsal spots).

Diagnosis. (excluding ZFMK 38415, see below) Assigned to the genus Dasypeltis on account of its slender form, possession of (usually 3–4) rows of reduced, oblique, keeled and serrated lateral scales (little or no serration in D. inornata) and head barely distinct from the neck (moderately distinct in D. fasciata). Distinguished from other congeners by its colour pattern consisting of: large cranio-caudally elongate dark brown saddles, usually bifurcated at each end with a fairly shallow but distinct notch, the saddles about 1.5 to 2 times as long as the pale interspaces between them (similar to D. loveridgei comb. nov., but this species has mostly transversely enlarged and distinctly hourglass-shaped saddles which are mostly about equal in length to the pale interspaces; similar but less elongate saddles in some populations of D. scabra, e.g. Fig. 5G & H); low numbers of pattern cycles 38–49 (lower than all other [patterned] species/populations except D. taylori sp. nov. and a few specimens of D. scabra; D. inornatus always uniform brown; D. gansi uniform or weakly marked); flanks decorated with dark brown spots or blotches (similar in D. loveridgei comb. nov., and some D. scabra, e.g. Fig. 5G & H) rather than vertical bars as in most other (patterned) Dasypeltis species/populations; and venter immaculate white to cream-white apart from a few dark markings at the edges in some specimens (extensive dark markings in D. abyssina and many D. scabra, often extensive grey stippling in D. medici); together with a combination of the following characters: Ventrals 213–229 in males (mostly higher than D. taylori sp. nov. 196–216, lower than D. arabica sp. nov. 236–244), 215–234 in females (lower than D. abyssina 241–271, D. arabica sp. nov. 239–254, D. gansi 235–259; mostly lower than D. latericia 234–262, D. crucifera sp. nov. 231–247); Subcaudals 59–61 in males (lower than D. inornata 81–92, D. fasciata 71– 90, D. medici 69–109, D. gansi 68–83, D. palmarum 68–77, D. parascabra 67–74, D. latericia 66–86, D. arabica sp. nov. 63–65), 50–63, 70 in females (mostly lower than D. inornata 69–84, D. fasciata 64–84, D. palmarum 62–77, D. medici 61–90); Tail of moderate length: SVL/tail length 5.0–5.9 in males, 5.1–7.2 in females (in study area, tail long in: D. medici 3.5–4.7 males, 4.5–5.7 females; D. fasciata 4.7–5.2 males, 4.8–6.4 females; see also Gans 1959); Postoculars 2 on either side of head (often one, especially in western populations, of D. atra); Nasal divided below the nostril (undivided in D. sahelensis and D. parascabra); Supralabials 7 (3rd and 4th enter orbit) on either side of head (usually 6[2,3] in D. loveridgei comb. nov.). Half the specimens examined had longitudinally divided anal plates; this plate is usually undivided in other species in the genus [from Bates & Broadley 2018]. 
CommentThis is the isolated Egyptian population previously referred to as D. scabra.

Mimicry: Appears to mimic Echis pyramidum which has a similar color pattern (Bates & Broadley 2018).

Diet: eggs; birds nesting in Faiyum whose eggs may be consumed by D. bazi include 32 species. Most of these birds breed from March through June, but some start in February, and a few breed until October (Saleh & Sarhan 2016). 
EtymologyThe species is named in honor of the late Dr. Mohamed Nour El-Din El-Baz who
contributed to an earlier version of this paper before his untimely death. 
References
  • Anderson, J. 1898. Zoology of Egypt. Vol. l. Reptilia and Batrachia. B. Quaritch, London
  • Baha el Din, S. 2006. A guide to the reptiles and amphibians of Egypt. The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo. xvi + 359 pp.
  • Bates, M.F. & D.G. Broadley 2018. A revision of the egg-eating snakes of the genus Dasypeltis Wagler (Squamata: Colubridae: Colubrinae) in north-eastern Africa and south-western Arabia, with descriptions of three new species. Indago 34 (1): 1-95 - get paper here
  • Chippaux,J.P. 2006. Les serpents d’Afrique occidentale et centrale. Paris (IRD editions), 311 pp.
  • Corkill N.L. 1935. Notes on Sudan snakes. A guide to the species represented in the collection in the Natural History Museum, Khartoum. Sudan Government Natural History Museum (Natural History), Publication No. 3. 40 p
  • Flower,Stanley 1933. Notes on the recent reptiles and amphibians of Egypt, with a list of the species recorded from that kingdom. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1933: 735-851
  • Gans, C. 1959. A taxonomic revision of the African snake genus Dasypeltis (Reptilia: Serpentes). Annales du Musée Royal du Congo Belge Tervuren 74: ix + 237 pp.
  • Geniez P. 2015. Serpents d’Europe, d’Afrique du Nord et du Moyen-Orient. Editions Delachaux et Niestlé, 379 pp. - get paper here
  • Largen,M.J. & Rasmussen,J.B. 1993. Catalogue of the snakes of Ethiopia (Reptilia Serpentes), including identification keys. Tropical Zoology 6: 313-434 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1956. On snakes collected in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan by J.S. Owen, Esq. Sudan Notes Rec. 36: 37-56 [1955]
  • Marx,Hymen 1968. Checklist of the reptiles and amphibians of Egypt. Spec. Publ. U.S. Nav. Med. Res. Unit 3: 1-91
  • Rehák I. & Osborne D.J. 1998. Notes on the distribution of reptiles and amphibians in Egypt. Věstník Ceskoslov. Spolecn. Zool., 52: 271-277
  • Saleh, M.A. 1997. Amphibians and reptiles of Egypt. National Biodiversity Unit, Al Azhar University, Cairo, 232 pp
  • SALEH, Mostafa & Moustafa SARHAN 2016. The egg-eating snake (Colubridae: Dasypeltis) of Faiyum, Egypt, with the description of a new species. Bull. Soc. Herp. France 160 : 25-48
  • Sindaco, R.; Alberto Venchi & Cristina Grieco 2013. The Reptiles of the Western Palearctic, Volume 2: Annotated Checklist and Distributional Atlas of the Snakes of Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia, with an Update to Volume 1. Edizioni Belvedere, Latina (Italy), 543 pp. - get paper here
  • Stejneger, L. 1893. On some collections of reptiles and batrachians from East Africa and the adjacent islands, recently received from Dr. W. L. Abbott and Mr. William Astor Chanler, with descriptions of new species. Proc. US Natl. Mus. 16: 711-741 - get paper here
  • Trailin V. 2012. Herpetology of Ethiopia – Eritrea and adjacent territory. Online only - get paper here
  • TRAPE Jean-François and Youssouph MANÉ 2006. Le genre Dasypeltis Wagler (Serpentes : Colubridae) en Afrique de l’Ouest : description de trois espèces et d’une sous-espèce nouvelles. Bull. Soc. Herp. France 119: 27-56 - get paper here
  • Trape, J.F.; Trape, S. & Chirio, L. 2012. Lézards, crocodiles et tortues d'Afrique occidentale et du Sahara. IRD Orstom, 503 pp. - get paper here
 
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