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Leptodeira misinawui TORRES-CARVAJAL, SÁNCHEZ-NIVICELA, POSSE, CELI & KOCH, 2020

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymLeptodeira misinawui TORRES-CARVAJAL, SÁNCHEZ-NIVICELA, POSSE, CELI & KOCH 2020: 365 
DistributionEcuador (Azuay)

Type locality: Ecuador, Azuay, Susudel, Poetate (-3.417S, -79.227W), 2734 m elevation  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: MZUA-RE 0253, adult male, collected by Elvis Celi on 22 April 2015.
Paratypes: MZUA-RE 0252, adult female, collected by Elvis Celi on 22 April 2015; QCAZ 16510, collected by Diego Almeida on 18 March 2018.

 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Leptodeira misinawui can be distinguished from other congeners by unique combination of the following characters: 19 (25%) or 21 (75%) midbody dorsal scale rows, reducing to 16 (25%) or 17 (75%) posteriorly; 2–3 preoculars (usually 2); vertebral and paravertebral rows not enlarged; single nape bar; faint intercalary spots; and 54–72 (average 63.25 ± 7.89 SD) body blotches rarely forming a continuous zig-zag stripe, 2–3 dorsal scales in length, half the length of light interspaces, and extending laterally onto scale rows 7–8 (Torres-Carvajal et al. 2020).

Comparisons: The new species differs from Leptodeira ornata (in parentheses) from western Ecuador in having 54–72 dorsal blotches along body (vs. 30–47), and tail length/body length 0.30 in females, 0.36–0.39 in males (vs. 0.21–0.26 in females, 0.23–0.30 in males). Similarly, L. misinawui has more dorsal blotches along body than L. larcorum (42–54). The dorsal blotches of L. misinawui are noticeably smaller (usually < 2 scales long and < 5 scales wide) than those of L. ornata and L. larcorum (usually > 2 scales long and > 10 scales wide). Although similar in morphology, the hemipenis of L. misinawui differs from those of L. larcorum and L. ornata in having shorter spines, with an average spine length/spine base-width ratio of 1.6 (vs. 3.3 and 2.2, respectively). The comparison of scutellation and size between Leptodeira misinawui, L. ornata from western Ecuador, and L. larcorum in Torres-Carvajal et al (2020).

Color in life: Dorsal background light brown, with a longitudinal series (~67 on body and ~38 on tail) of dark brown paravertebral blotches on each side, some of which are fused with the corresponding opposite blotch, but never forming a zig-zag line. Paravertebral blotches on body 2–3 dorsal scales in length, half the length of dorsal light interspaces, extending laterally onto scale rows 7–8, and becoming smaller towards the tip of the tail. Faint intercalary spots on dorsal row 4, or between rows 4 and 5. Ventral surface of body cream with minute dark brown dots, more numerous at lateral ends of ventral scales, head (ventrally), and margins of subcaudals. Dark brown postocular stripe from eye to corner of mouth, extending from postoculars across ventral edges of primary and secondary temporals, dorsal edge of supralabial VI, upper half of supralabial VII, and anterior half of supralabial VIII; another dark stripe from nostril across loreal and upper preocular to orbit. Infralabials cream, densely marked with tiny dark dots. Head background same as dorsum, with irregular dark brown marks that are denser on parietals. Longitudinal nape bar extending from posterior margins of parietals to about third middorsal row; two short longitudinally elongated blotches on nape, the left one fused with nape bar. Iris bronze (Torres-Carvajal et al. 2020). 
CommentSympatry: Holcosus orcesi (Peters), Phyllodactylus leoni Torres-Carvajal et al., Stenocercus rhodomelas (Boulenger), Tantilla insulamontana. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet “misinawui” derives from the Quechua-Cañari words “misi” meaning cat, and “ñawui” meaning eye, and refers to the similarity of the eye of the new species to the eye of a cat. This epithet honors the Quechua-Cañari culture from southern Ecuador. 
References
  • TORRES-CARVAJAL, OMAR; JUAN C. SÁNCHEZ-NIVICELA, VALENTINA POSSE, ELVIS CELI, CLAUDIA KOCH 2020. A new species of cat-eyed snake (Serpentes: Dipsadinae: Leptodeirini) from the Andes of southern Ecuador. Zootaxa 4895 (3): 357–380 - get paper here
 
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