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Phalotris shawnella SMITH, BROUARD & CACCIALI, 2022

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymPhalotris shawnella SMITH, BROUARD & CACCIALI 2022 
DistributionParaguay (San Pedro)

Type locality: Rancho Laguna Blanca, Departamento San Pedro, Paraguay  
TypesHolotype: CZPLT-H-594; adult male; collected during digging on 3 January 2014 (J-P. Brouard); Rancho Laguna Blanca, 23°48'43"S, 56°17'49"W (WGS 84), 204 masl, San Pedro department. Specimen complete but damaged during collection, being severed approximately at mid-body. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Phalotris shawnella sp. nov. is assigned to the nasutus group on account of the pointed snout with prominent rostral shield and the fusion of the second and third temporal plates (Fig. 3A). The new species can be distinguished from all other members of the nasutus group by the combination of the following characters: 1) fifth supralabial in contact with parietal, 2) vertebral stripe present, 3) yellowish nuchal collar (2 or 3 dorsal scales long), 4) dull reddish color of head in adults, 5) broad, solidly or near solidly dark lateral bands, 6) red-orange ventral scales lightly and irregularly spotted with black, mainly on the posterior half of the body, and 7) a bilobed, extremely asymmetrical hemipenis, with enlarged, curved, lateral spines.
Phalotris shawnella sp. nov. is differentiated from the individual members of the nasutus group and the only species known to occur sympatrically with it (P. multipunctatus) as follows. (The characteristics of Phalotris shawnella sp. nov. are given first, followed by the comparison species in parentheses):
Phalotris nasutus Gomes, 1915: 1) broad black lateral bands running the length of the body (absent in P. nasutus or present vestigially on the posterior part of the body only); 2) supralabial concolorous with head (supralabials paler than head); 3) ventral coloration red-orange with blackish smudges on the lateral part of the ventral scales, and scattered larger irregular black blotches (ventral immaculate pink); 4) ventral scales 185 in the male (ventrals in males < 182); 5) hemipenis bilobed and greatly asymmetrical (hemipenis only slightly asymmetrical).
Phalotris lativittatus Ferrarezzi, 1993. Superficially closest to this species within the nasutus group, which shows little variation in appearance across the large range and specimen series available (H. Braz in litt.). It can be reliably distinguished from P. shawnella sp. nov. with the following characters: 1) Supralabials uniformly brownish red (supralabials pale in P. lativittatus); 2) infralabials uniformly grey (infralabials with some dark markings); 3) scattered dark spots along the sides of the ventral scales (uniform pale ventral scales); 4) broad lateral band solid or nearly solid (lateral band with broad pale scale edges along entire length); 5) small spines at the lower part of the hemipenis (larger spines all along the body of the hemipenis).
Phalotris nigrilatus Ferrarezzi, 1993. Geographically, this is the only species that approaches P. shawnella sp. nov. within the nasutus group and is the only species with which it shares two key characters: a solid dark lateral band and dark markings on the ventral scales. Phalotris nigrilatus is otherwise phenotypically strikingly different and the significant specimen series now available indicates that it is morphologically very conservative (Cacciali et al. 2020). 1) Presence of clear pale collar (absence of collar in P. nigrilatus); 2) Ventral dark markings irregular, diffuse and widely-spaced, mainly on the posterior half of the body (ventral dark markings dense and typically regular, at the edges of each ventral scale and along the entire underside); 3) Chinshields pale contrasting with dark infralabials (chinshields dark, not contrasting with infralabials); 4) Head brick red dorsally with brownish suffusions in adult (head black in adult); 5) thin spines on the hemipenis (thick spines).
Phalotris concolor Ferrarezzi, 1993: 1) fifth supralabial in contact with parietal (separated in P. concolor); 2) presence of broad dark lateral band (lateral coloration uniformly red); 3) indistinct black vertebral line (dorsal coloration uniformly red); 4) ventral scales 185 in the male (212 ventral scales in the only male known).
Phalotris labiomaculatus Lema, 2002. 1) Supralabials uniformly brownish-red, concolorous with rest of head (spotted black and white supralabials in P. labiomaculatus); 2) wide dark lateral band (body coloration uniformly orange with no dark lateral band); 3) yellow nuchal collar 2–3 scales wide (white nuchal collar 3–4 scales wide); 4) dark vertebral line present (no vertebral line); 5) irregular dark spots on the ventral scales (uniformly white ventral scales).
Phalotris multipunctatus Puorto & Ferrarezzi, 1993. This is the only species of Phalotris known to occur sympatrically with P. shawnella. 1) Scales of broad lateral bands lacking white spotted pattern (scales of broad lateral bands with white tips giving spotted pattern in P. multipunctatus); 2) red-orange ventral scales lightly and irregularly spotted with black, mainly on the posterior half of the body (ventral scales black with broad white posterior edges forming banded pattern); 3) head brick red (in adult) or black (in juvenile) lacking any white spotting (head black with profuse white spotting); 4) infralabials uniform (each infralabial with a single large white medial spot); 5) longitudinal dark mid-dorsal stripe present (longitudinal dark mid-dorsal stripe absent). (from Smith et al. 2022). 
EtymologyNamed after the first names of two remarkable young people who were born around the same time as Fundación Para La Tierra, and who inspired its founders to work towards the study and conservation of the Paraguayan fauna, so that one day they might inherit a better world: Shawn Ariel Smith Fernández and Ella Bethany Atkinson. The epithet is not Latin, is invariable (word in apposition) and is made up of elements of both of their names. 
  • Kwet, A. 2023. Liste der im Jahr 2022 neu beschriebenen Reptilien. Elaphe 2023 (3): 48-73
  • Smith P, Brouard J-P, Cacciali P 2022. A new species of Phalotris (Serpentes, Colubridae, Elapomorphini) from Paraguay. Zoosystematics and Evolution 98(1): 77-85 - get paper here
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