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Liophidium maintikibo FRANZEN, JONES, RASELIMANANA, NAGY, C’CRUZE, GLAW & VENCES, 2009

IUCN Red List - Liophidium maintikibo - Data Deficient, DD

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Pseudoxyrhophiinae, Colubroidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymLiophidium maintikibo FRANZEN, JONES, RASELIMANANA, NAGY, C’CRUZE, GLAW & VENCES 2009
Liophidium maintikibo — WALLACH et al. 2014: 386 
DistributionW Madagascar (deciduous forest of Kirindy)

Type locality: near Kirindy research station (20◦ 03′ S, 44◦ 39′ E), elevation below 100 m, about 60 km north of Morondava (district of Morondava, region of Menabe, Toliara Province), western Madagascar.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: ZSM 2052/2007, collected by Julia Jones on 20 November 2004. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Liophidium maintikibo sp. n. differs from the only Comoran species L. mayottensis by 17 rows of dorsal scales (vs. 19) and from the Malagasy species (which all share 17 rows of dorsal scales) as follows: from L. apperti, L. chabaudi, L. rhodogaster, L. torquatum and L. trilineatum by the lack of a loreal scale and the presence of only seven upper labials, with upper labials 3 + 4 touching the eye (vs. 8 upper labials, 4 +5 touching the eye). Moreover, it differs from the above mentioned species (except L. rhodogaster) by a higher number of ventral scales and by a different dorsal colouration (5 dorsal stripes vs. 0, 1 or 3 stripes; except L. apperti).

From the remaining Liophidium with seven upper labials and no loreal scale L. maintikibo sp. n. differs from L. vaillanti by fewer ventral scales (193 vs. 220-255) and colouration (e.g., presence of a light nuchal band, lack of a broad and well defined light lateral band, presence of a broad longitudinal mid-ventral stripe of oval blotches). It also differs from L. vaillanti by a smaller total length (255 mm vs. max. 858 mm, see comments on earlier available names below).
The new species resembles its apparent sister taxon Liophidium therezieni in most characters. It differs from the latter by having fewer ventral scales (193 vs. 218-235, table 2) and in several aspects of the dorsal and ventral colouration: upper labials predominantly dark, mostly with a small light marking each (vs. upper labials light, with sparse dark markings), broad dark lateral band (vs. no distinct lateral band), upper and lower dark margins of lateral band narrow (vs. equivalent lines broad), dorsolateral stripe absent or weak (vs. dorsolateral stripe broad), gular region heavily mottled with dark brown markings (vs. gular region with sparse dark markings), light ventral colouration bright yellow in life (vs. light ventral colouration pinkish white in life), ventral scales with a median oval blotch, forming one broad mid-ventral line (vs. ventral scales mostly with two lateral markings, forming two indistinct lateral rows), subcaudals immaculate (vs. subcaudals with lateral markings).
The new species differs from the two taxa of the morphologically similar genus Pararhadinaea (P. melanogaster melanogaster, P. m. marojejyensis) by a higher number of ventral scales (193 vs. 147-180), a higher number of subcaudals (56 vs. 41-45), a high number of maxillary teeth (23 vs. 13-14) and by a different colouration (presence of a light nuchal band and no well defined strongly contrasting light and dark stripes). 
CommentThis species is related to Liophidium therezieni but differs by a lower number of ventral scales and several details of colouration. Its ventral scales have a large central black patch which is missing from the subcaudals. This predominantly black ventral side is similar to that of another enigmatic Malagasy snake, Pararhadinaea melanogaster. 
EtymologyThe species name is used as a noun in apposition and is composed of the Malagasy adjectiv “mainty”, meaning black, and “kibo”, meaning venter. It refers to the large black central markings on the ventral scales of the new species. 
References
  • Franzen, Michael; Jones, Julia; Raselimanana, Achille P.; Nagy, Zoltán T.; D'Cruze, Neil; Glaw, Frank; Vences, Miguel, 2009. A new black-bellied snake (Pseudoxyrhophiinae: Liophidium) from western Madagascar, with notes on the genus Pararhadinaea. Amphibia-Reptilia 30 (2): 173-183 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
 
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