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Proahaetulla antiqua MALLIK, ACHYUTHAN, GANESH, PAL, VIJAYAKUMAR & SHANKER, 2019

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Ahaetuliinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymProahaetulla antiqua MALLIK, ACHYUTHAN, GANESH, PAL, VIJAYAKUMAR & SHANKER 2019 
DistributionIndia (Tamil Nadu)

Type locality: near Agasthiyar peak (8 ̊37’09’’N 77 ̊14’57’’E), Agasthyamalai hills, Kalakad Mundanthurai tiger reserve, Tamil Nadu, India.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: CES 259 (given as CESS); adult male; Coll. Saunak Pal and S. P. Vijayakumar, 28th August 2011.
Paratype: CESS318; adult male; Pandimotta (8 ̊49’35’’N 77 ̊13’02’’E), Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, Thenmala, Kerala, India; Coll. S.R. Chandramouli and K. P. Dinesh, July 2012. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Morphologically, Proahaetulla is characterized by the presence of horizontally elliptical pupil; concave loreal region, enabling a near-binocular vision; snout produced forward to a fine point; and bright-green dorsum. Proahaetulla gen. nov. differs from Ahaetulla (A. anomala, A. nasuta, A. dispar, A. pulverulenta, A. mycterizans, A. fasciolata, A. fronticincta & A. prasina) in showing the following combination of morphological characters: 12–13 rows of mildly serrated, keeled dorsal scales starting from the nape till the dorsal scales that are situated in the row adjacent to the cloacal plate; strongest keels on the mid vertebral row (7th or 8th row) of scales; keels consecutively weaker in the paravertebral row of scales (dorsal scales smooth in most Ahaetulla, partly keeled near sacral region in A. perroteti); a set of 20 maxillary teeth (12–16 in Ahaetulla) and post-ocular scales 2–3 (2 in Ahaetulla); greenish yellow tongue with black speckles (vs. reddish, purplish or brownish tongue in Ahaetulla spp.).
Proahaetulla gen. nov. differs from all the known genera in Ahaetuliinae as follows:pupil horizontally elliptical (vs. rounded in Dendrelaphis, Chrysopelea); snout tip pointed (vs. rounded in Dendrelaphis, Chrysopelea); dorsum verdant green (vs. never totally green in Dendrelaphis, Chrysopelea, Dryophiops); dorsal scales keeled (vs. smooth in Dendrelaphis, Dryophiops, Ahaetulla); vertebral scales not enlarged (vs. enlarged in Dendrelaphis); dorsal body scales without apical pits (vs. with apical pits in Dendrelaphis, Chrysopelea, Dryophiops); maxillary teeth 20 (vs. < 16 in Ahaetulla; > 22 in Dendrelaphis, Chrysopelea); mid body scale rows 13–15 (vs. not less than 15 in Dryophiops, Ahaetulla; 17 in Chrysopelea) (Table 3 in Mallik et al. 2019: 10).

Comparisons: Proahaetulla gen. nov. differs from the genera in Ahaetuliinae with the combination of the following characters. Dendrelaphis–rostral lacking a protuberance; pupil circular; loreal region not strongly concave; ventral scales mildly notched; dorsum never completely verdant green; Chrysopelea–rostrum lacking a protuberance; pupil circular; loreal region not strongly concave; dorsum never verdant green; ventrals strongly notched; Dryophiops–dorsum never verdant green; dorsal scales smooth; posterior temporals not greater than two; loreals one on each side (Fig 1B–1F) (please refer key below).
Due to phenetic similarity and sympatric occurrence, the new genus is compared with the genus Ahaetulla at a species-level as follows: dorsal body scales distinctly keeled (vs. smooth in all Ahaetulla spp. except A. perroteti, that has faint keels on sacral rows); three postoculars (Figs 1B, 1C & 4E) on each side of head (vs. 2 in all Ahaetulla spp.); green dorsal colour (vs. always brown in A. pulverulenta, A. fascioalata, frequently brown in A. fronticincta, A. anomala); snout without rostral appendage (vs. with a rostral appendage in A. nasuta, A. pulverulenta, A. anomala); ventrals– 196–207 (vs. < 160 in A. perroteti, A. dispar); subcaudals– 160–165 (vs. < 120 in A. dispar, A. perroteti); loreals– 2 (vs. no loreal in A. nasuta, A. perroteti, A. anomala, A. pulverulenta, vs. 1–2 loreal(s) on each side of head in A. dispar, A. prasina) (S2 Table in Mallik et al. 2019). 
CommentType species: Proahaetulla antiqua is the type species of the genus Proahaetulla MALLIK, ACHYUTHAN, GANESH, PAL, VIJAYAKUMAR & SHANKER 2019. 
EtymologyThe generic epithet Proahaetulla gen. nov. stems from the generic nomen
Ahaetulla indicating the early divergence of the lineage from the rest of the Ahaetuliinae members. Gender feminine. The specific epithet antiqua is Latin for ‘antique’ or old, a term alluding to the evolutionary age or antiquity of this new taxon. 
References
  • Mallik AK, Achyuthan NS, Ganesh SR, Pal SP, Vijayakumar SP, Shanker K 2019. Discovery of a deeply divergent new lineage of vine snake (Colubridae: Ahaetuliinae: Proahaetulla gen. nov. ) from the southern Western Ghats of Peninsular India with a revised key for Ahaetuliinae. PLoS ONE 14(7): e0218851 - get paper here
 
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