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Persiophis fahimii RAJABIZADEH, PYRON, NAZAROV, POYARKOV, ADRIAENS & HERREL, 2020

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Fahimi’s Ground Snake 
SynonymHierophis fahimii RAJABIZADEH, PYRON, NAZAROV, POYARKOV, ADRIAENS & HERREL 2020 
DistributionIran (Kerman)

Type locality: Iran, Kerman province, 19 km NW of Orzueeyeh City, 1350 m elevation  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. Adult female, ICSTZM.7H.1151 (field number: RAN 2948). ; coll. R. Nazarov, May 2008 (Figs. 3–5 and Fig. S1). The exact geographic coordinates of the type locality are not given, but can be obtained upon request from the authors. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. For the genus and species, Persiophis fahimii is distinguished within the subfamily Colubrinae by a combination of distinct osteological characters, including the occurrence of vestigial teeth on the palatine; a thin, edentulous pterygoid; short and blunt teeth on the maxillae and dentary, occurrence of edentulous parts on the anterior and middle region of the maxillae; a fully fused basioccipital and basisphenoid; the occurrence of a highly oblique quadrate bone attached to the posterior tip of a somewhat elongated supratemporal. The genus and species are also distinguished within the subfamily Colubrinae by a combination of morphological characters, including an elongated snout; occurrence of a rostral scale that is visible from above and wedged between the internasals; a relatively trihedral first supralabial that is slightly bigger than the second and elongated toward the tip of rostral; 15 longitudinal rows of dorsal scales on midbody; and an edentulous pterygoid.

Comparisons. The above mentioned anatomical traits are in contrast to those observed in the genus Rhynchocalamus, including a small, thin, down and backward directed premaxilla; a broad, edentulous pterygoid; relatively elongated, posteriorly curved teeth on the maxillae and dentary; a closed suture between basioccipital and basisphenoid; a short and nearly vertical quadrate bone on each side of cranium, and a broad attachment surface for a short supratemporal (Avcı et al., 2015). Also, Persiophis fahimii differs from Rhynchocalamus and Lytorhynchus in having maxillae that anteriorly and medially are edentulous and in between, bear small and vestigial teeth except for the last two, in contrast to relatively elongated, posteriorly curved teeth over most of the maxillar length in Rhynchocalamus and Lytorhynchus (Avcı et al., 2015; Leviton & Anderson, 1970). Persiophis differs from Dasypeltis in having smooth edges on the anterior frontal and posterior nasals (compared to small premaxilla and a serrated anterior free edge of frontals and posterior edges of nasals) (Gans, 1952). 
Comment 
EtymologyThe genus name is a latinized noun in masculine gender derived from the Greek words ‘‘Persi-’’ (Persís) = Persia (old name of Iran) and ‘‘ophis’’ = serpent. The species is named after Dr. Hadi Fahimi, a young naturalist and herpetologist who dedicated his life to studying the biodiversity and conservation of reptiles and mammals of Iran. As a young nature lover, Hadi joined the rangers of the Department of Environment in Kerman province for two years and served partly in Khabr National Park where is close to the type locality of Persiophis fahimii. He was a PhD student in IAU, Tehran, studying on the conservation of black bears in southeastern Iran, but sadly passed away in an aircraft crash in Dena Mountain in central Zagros in February 2018. 
References
  • Rajabizadeh M, Pyron RA, Nazarov R, Poyarkov NA, Adriaens D, Herrel A. 2020. Additions to the phylogeny of colubrine snakes in Southwestern Asia, with description of a new genus and species (Serpentes: Colubridae: Colubrinae) PeerJ 8:e9016 - get paper here
 
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