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Dipsas aparatiritos RAY, SÁNCHEZ-MARTÍNEZ, BATISTA, MULCAHY, SHEEHY III, SMITH, PYRON & ARTEAGA, 2023

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Hidden Snail-eating Snake
Spanish: Caracolera Escondida 
SynonymDipsas aparatiritos RAY, SÁNCHEZ-MARTÍNEZ, BATISTA, MULCAHY, SHEEHY III, SMITH, PYRON & ARTEAGA 2023 
DistributionPanama

Type locality: Parque Nacional General de División Omar Torrijos Herrera (PNGDOTH), ca. 7.5 km N of El Copé de La Pintada, Coclé Province, 8.670383°N, 80.592343°W, 763 m a.s.l.  
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesHolotype: USNM 579828, female; 30 Jul 2010; S. Gotte, J. Jacobs, D. Mulcahy and R. Reynolds; (Biol. Survey Field Series 4608) (Figs 3, 4).
Paratype. Panama, female; PNGDOTH, ca. 7.5 km N of El Copé de La Pintada, Coclé Province, 8.670383°N, 80.592343°W, 763 m a.s.l.; 30 Jul 2010; S. Gotte, J. Jacobs, D. Mulcahy and R. Reynolds; USNM 579829 (Biol Survey Field Series 4609) (Figs 5, 6). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Dipsas aparatiritos sp. nov. is placed in the genus Dipsas based on phylogenetic evidence (Fig. 1) and the absence of a labial that is noticeably higher than other labials. The species is diagnosed based on the following combination of characters: (1) 15/15/15 smooth dorsals with enlarged vertebral row (1.5–2.4× as wide as adjacent rows); (2) loreal and a preocular in contact with orbit; (3) 7 supralabials with 4th and 5th contacting orbit, 1st supralabial fused with nasal scale; (4) 8–9 infralabials with 3rd to 6th in contact with chin shields, first pair of infralabials not in contact behind symphysial due to presence of two postmentals; (5) 191–196 ventrals in males, 177–197 in females; (6) 122–136 divided subcaudals in males, 111–126 in females; (7) dorsal and ventral color consisting of 17–20 dark brown to black white-bordered body bands (10– 12 dorsal scales long anteriorly to 3–5 dorsal scales long posteriorly) separated from each other by white to pale yellow (anteriorly) to pale brown (posteriorly) interspaces measuring 2–6 dorsal scales long, ventral surfaces white with encroachment from the dorsal dark blotches and with smaller blackish marks in-between the blotches, dorsal aspect of head dark reddish brown with small blotches on the labial and temporal scales as well as a pale nuchal collar, throat white with small dark brown to blackish markings, iris pale brown with minute black speckles; (8) 310–465 mm SVL in males, 169–424 mm females; (9) 122–260 mm TL in males, 65–247 mm in females. (Ray et al. 2023)

Comparisons: Dipsas aparatiritos sp. nov. can be distinguished from all other similar or related species by the following combination of characters: 15 dorsal scale rows; one upper preoculars; two or three postoculars; temporals 1+2; seven or eight supralabials, fourth and fifth contacting the orbit; eight or nine infralabials, no infralabials in contact behind mental; vertebral row moderately enlarged; 191–196 ventrals in males, and 177–197 in females; 129–136 subcaudals in males, and 111–131 in females; by the alternating dark brown and tan brown bands running the length of the body, including the tail.
Dipsas aparatiritos sp. nov. differs from the majority of its congeners by having the nasal scale fused with the first supralabial, anterior infralabials separated by a pair of (rarely fused) small postmentals, and temporals usually entering the orbit. Dipsas aparatiritos sp. nov. shares with the other Central American species of the genus the number of dorsal scales rows (15-15-15), except with D. gaigeae Oliver (13-13-13); number of temporals (1+2+ 2); absence of preoculars, except D. brevifacies Cope (1, 2 or 3); and number of postoculars (2,3), except D. temporalis Werner (3,4). The number of infralabials (9–10) is in the range of all Panamanian species, but the infralabial scales in contact behind mental (0) differs from all species, except with D. temporalis. The number of supralabials (7–8) is within the variation found in D. gaigeae (7–8), D. nicholsi (7–9), D. temporalis (6–8), and D. tenuissima Taylor (8), but differs from D. articulata Cope, D. bicolor Günther, D. brevifacies, and D. viguieri Bocourt (9–10); the supralabials scales in contact with the eye (4–5) also are in the variation found in the other species. The vertebral row is enlarged moderately as in D. nicholsi and D. temporalis, and it different from the other species where it is scarcely enlarged. The number of ventral scales of males and females of Dipsas aparatiritos sp. nov.is larger than D. brevifacies and D. gaigeae and fewer than D. articulata, D. tenuissima and the males of D. temporalis, while overlapping with D. bicolor, D. nicholsi, D. viguieri, and the females of D. temporalis.
The number of subcaudal scales of males and females is larger than D. brevifacies, D. gaigeae, D. nicholsi, and D. tenuissima, while overlapping with D. articulata, D. bicolor, D. temporalis, and D. viguieri.
The new species is sister to Dipsas temporalis, from which it differs on the following characters of coloration and lepidosis. In D. aparatiritos sp. nov., the first dorsal band extends far onto the ventrals (restricted to the dorsum or barely entering ventrals in D. temporalis) and the posterior body bands form elliptical blotches usually broken along the vertebral line (bands complete over dorsum or elliptical blotches joined along the vertebral line in D. temporalis). The color of the anterior interspaces is white or bright pale yellow in D. aparatiritos sp. nov. and pale brown in D. temporalis. Overall,
D. temporalis compared to D. aparatiritos sp. nov. have a greater number of ventral scales in males (x̅ = 198) vs. (x̅ = 192) and females (x̅ = 192) vs. (x̅ = 184) respectively, although there is overlap in the counts. (Ray et al. 2023) 
CommentDistribution: see map in Ray et al. 2023: 152 (Fig. 9)

Diet: In PNGDOTH, JMR examined the fecal samples of this species and found that one (2% of the sample) contained the operculum of a snail and 49 (98%) contained oligochaete chaetae. 
EtymologyThe species name is an adjective formed from the Greek word aparatíritos (απαρατήρητος), which means unnoticed. The snake has hidden in plain sight for more than forty years at a very well-studied field site for herpetological research.  
References
  • Fuentes, Rogemif; Aschcroft, Jesse; Erick Barría, Helio Quintero-Arrieta, Alexis Baules, Abel Batista, Eduardo Zambrano, Marcos Ponce 2023. Herpetological diversity in forests of Portobelo National Park, Colón Biological Corridor, Panama Reptiles & Amphibians 30 (1): e18434 - get paper here
  • Ray JM, Sánchez-Martínez P, Batista A, Mulcahy DG, Sheehy III CM, Smith EN, Pyron RA, Arteaga A 2023. A new species of Dipsas (Serpentes, Dipsadidae) from central Panama. ZooKeys 1145: 131–167
 
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