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Limnophis branchi CONRADIE, DEEPAK, KEATES & GOWER, 2020

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymLimnophis branchi CONRADIE, DEEPAK, KEATES & GOWER 2020
Limnophis bicolor — BRANCH & CONRADIE 2015: 201
Limnophis bicolor — BRANCH 2018: 53
Limnophis bicolor — CHIPPAUX & JACKSON 2019: 297 
DistributionNE Angola (Lagoa Carumbo region)

Type locality: Luele River area north of Lagoa Carumbo (−7.75308°, 19.95686°, 788 m asl), Lunda Norte Province, Angola.  
TypesHolotype: PEM R19474, adult male, collected by a local fisherman and presented to W Conradie and WR Branch on 4 May 2011.
Paratypes: PEM 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Limnophis branchi sp. nov. is distinguished from the other two species in the genus by its distinct ventral colouration and patterning (Figures 7 and 8). In L. bicolor, there is a clear separation between dorsal and ventral colouration, with the venter mostly being immaculate, and the supraand infralabials darkly edged to give a barred appearance. In L. bangweolicus, the throat region has longitudinal dark lines that extend onto the body forming three to four continuous or stippled black lines from head to tail, the subcaudals are darkly edged giving the appearance of a midventral line from cloaca to tail tip, the supralabials have a white longitudinal line from the snout to the posterior edge of the supralabials. In L. branchi sp. nov. the venter is darkly pigmented from throat to tail tip giving a barred appearance, supraand infralabials are barred (similar to L. bicolor). In L. branchi sp. nov. the dorsolateral pale brown line on the body extends only over one dorsal scale (versus 3–4 dorsal scales in L. bicolor and L. bangweolicus). In both L. branchi sp. nov. and L. bangweolicus, the nasal suture intersects the loreal, whereas in L. bicolor it intersects the 1st supralabial. Limnophis branchi sp. nov. has more ventral scales in both sexes (146–147 (males)/140–142 (females) versus 130–143 (males)/127– 139 (females) in L. bicolor, and 136–146 (males)/131–150 (females) in L. bangweolicus). Limnophis branchi sp. nov. has fewer maxillary teeth (17–19 versus 26–31 in L. bicolor, and 22–25 in L. bangweolicus). The head shape of L. branchi sp. nov. is most similar to that of L. bangweolicus in being narrow and long with a frontal scale that is narrower than wide (versus shorter and rounder head and broad frontal scale in L. bicolor; Figure 2). 
EtymologyNamed after William ‘Bill’ Roy Branch (1947–2018), Curator Emeritus of Herpetology at Port Elizabeth Museum, in recognition of his many contributions to African herpetology. 
  • Branch W. 2018. Snakes of Angola: An annotated checklist. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 12(2) [General Section]: 41–82 (e159) - get paper here
  • Branch WR, Conradie W. 2015. IV. Herpetofauna da região da Lagoa Carumbo. In: Huntley B, Francisco P, editors. Avaliação Rápida da Biodiversidade da Região da Lagao Carumbo, Lunda Norte Angola. Luanda, Angola: Ministério do Ambiente de Angola. p 194–209
  • Chippaux, Jean-Philippe & Kate Jackson 2019. Snakes of Central and Western Africa. Johns Hopkins University Press, 448 pp. [detaileld review in HR 51 (1): 161] - get paper here
  • Conradie, Werner; V Deepak , Chad Keates & David J Gower 2020. Kissing cousins: a review of the African genus Limnophis Günther, 1865 (Colubridae: Natricinae), with the description of a new species from north-eastern Angola. African Journal of Herpetology 69 (1): 79–107 - get paper here
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