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Lycodon chithrasekarai (WICKRAMASINGHE, VIDANAPATHIRANA, PUSHPAMAL & WICKRAMASINGHE, 2020)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesSinhala: Chithrasekarage gata radanakaya
E: Chithrasekara’s bridle snake 
SynonymDryocalamus chithrasekarai WICKRAMASINGHE, VIDANAPATHIRANA, PUSHPAMAL & WICKRAMASINGHE 2020 
DistributionSri Lanka

Type locality: Uda Pawanalla Police Post, Sripada (Peak Wilderness), Ratnapura District, Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka (06°47’42.3’’N, 080°27’40.4’’E; elevation 655 m)  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. NMSL-NH 2019.26.01 (Figs. 2, 3), adult female, SVL 328 mm, coll. Mendis Wickramasinghe & Dulan Ranga Vidanapathirana, 5 November 2009.
Paratype. DWC 2019.05.03 (Fig. 4), juvenile male 199 mm SVL, from Kanneliya, Koralegama, Panangala, Galle, Southern Province, Sri Lanka, (06o14’52.5” N, 080o19’48.6” E; elevation 45 m a.s.l.), coll. Vishan Pushpa- mal, 18 June 2017. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. We assign the new species to the genus Dryocalamus because it possesses the following characteristics: costal scales at midbody 13–15; loreal touching eye; broad and keeled ventrals, which are raised on the sides; divided subcaudals, which are raised on the sides. Dryocalamus chithrasekarai sp. nov., can be easily distinguished from all its congeners by the combination of the following characters: (1) the absence of a preocular scale; (2) loreal in contact with supraocular; (3) costal scales in 15 straight rows; (4) posterior margin of nuchal band appears flat; (5) white solid bands on anterior body, which appear somewhat circular centrally; (6) checkered appearance on posterior lateral body where consecutive bands coalesce at the ventrolateral margin; (7) banding present throughout the anterior venter; and (8) tail region consistently dark.

Comparisons. Dryocalamus chithrasekarai sp. nov., is distinguished from its congeners in Sri Lanka as follows: It differs from D. gracilis by the absence (vs. presence) of a preocular scale; having the loreal in contact (vs. not in contact) with the supraocular (Figs. 3A, 5A); the cloacal shield divided (vs. undivided); posterior margin of the nuchal band flat (vs. convex) banding present throughout the anterior venter (vs. not banded, uniform creamy white); and the tail region consistently dark (vs. creamy white) (Figs. 2, 4, 5B–C). The new species is distinguished from D. nympha by the absence (vs. presence) of a preocular scale; having the loreal in contact (vs. not in contact) with the supraocular (Figs. 3A, 6A); having 15 (vs. 13) costals; banding present throughout the anterior venter (vs. not banded, uniform creamy white); and the tail region consistently dark, with no white bands (vs. uniformly creamy white) (Figs. 2,4, 6B–C).
Dryocalamus chithrasekarai sp. nov. is distinguished from D. davisonii (Blanford, 1878), to which it bears a superficial resemblance, by the absence (vs. presence) of a preocular scale, having the loreal in contact (vs. not in contact) with the supraocular, and having 15 (vs. 13) costals. It is distinguished from D. philippinus (Griffin, 1909), D. subannulatus (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854) and D. tristrigatus (Günther, 1858) by the absence (vs. pres- ence) of a preocular scale, having the loreal in contact (vs. not in contact) with the supraocular, the cloacal shield divided (vs. undivided), a banded appearance on the venter throughout the anterior body, and the tail region consis- tently dark, bearing no white bands (vs. entire venter and tail cream white, unbanded). 
CommentDescription based on 2 specimens, with 3 more specimens observed in nature.

Synonymy: Wickramasinghe et al. 2020 described this species as Dryocalamus chithrasekarai, arguing that Dryocalamus should remain valid, citing morphological differences and phylogenetic studies, such as Zaher et al. 2019. However, the latter authors confirmed that Dryocalamus nests within Lycodon, so we leave Dryocalamus as a synonym of Lycodon. See also notes in L. aulicus, the type species of Lycodon, and Lycodon tristrigatus, the type species of Dryocalamus. 
EtymologyThe species is named for Nagamulla Hewage Chithrasekara, in recognition of his efforts to protect the Kanneliya Forest Reserve, where the paratype was collected. The species epithet is a patronym Latinized in the genitive case. 
References
  • WICKRAMASINGHE, L.J. MENDIS; DULAN RANGA VIDANAPATHIRANA, VISHAN PUSHPAMAL, NETHU WICKRAMASINGHE 2020. A new species of Dryocalamus (Serpentes: Colubridae) endemic to the rainforests of southwestern Sri Lanka. Zootaxa 4748 (2): 248–260 - get paper here
 
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