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Psammophis phillipsii (HALLOWELL, 1844)

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Psammophiinae, Colubroidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesOlive Grass Racer, Phillips’ Sand Snake 
SynonymColuber phillipsii HALLOWELL 1844: 169
Psammophis Phillipsi — HALLOWELL 1854: 100
Psammophis Phillipsi — HALLOWELL 1857: 69
Psammophis regularis STERNFELD 1908 (fide HUGHES 2004)
Psammophis sibilans — SCHMIDT 1923: 111 (fide BROADLEY 1977)
Psammophis sibilans phillipsii — LOVERIDGE 1940
Psammophis sibilans phillipsii — BRISCOE 1949
Psammophis phillipsi — BROADLEY 1977
Psammophis phillipsi — BOYCOTT 1992
Psammophis phillipsi — AUERBACH 1987: 170
Psammophis phillipsii — BROADLEY 1998
Psammophis cf. phillipsi — PAUWELS et al. 2004
Psammophis cf. phillipsi — BÖHME et al. 2011: 59
Psammophis philippsii — HERRMANN & BRANCH 2013 (in error)
Psammophis philllipsi — WALLACH et al. 2014: 578 
DistributionSenegal, Gambia (HÅKANSSON 1981), Guinea-Bissau, Guinea (Conakry), Liberia, Sierra Leone, S Ivory Coast, S Ghana (Accra), S Togo, S Benin, S Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo (Brazzaville), Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, Botswana, elevation 0-1200 m.

Type locality: Liberia.  
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesLectotype: ANSP 5112, female (designated by BROADLEY 1977: 24)
Syntypes: ZMB 9993 (2 specimens) [Psammophis sibilans var. tettensis] 
CommentSimilar species: Closely related to P. sibilans and both may represent the same species.

Subspecies: Psammophis sibilans var. mossambica PETERS 1882: 122 and Psammophis phillipsi occidentalis have been elevated to full species status.

Nigerian specimens are consistent with descriptions of P. phillipsi by Hallowell (1844), Villiers (1975), Hughes and Barry (1969), and Broadley (1977) in all features (e.g., plain colouration, shape of the snout) except for the presence of a divided cloacal scale in several specimens (see Hughes, 1999; Hughes and Wade, 2004). Although the condition of the cloacal scale has been considered a diagnostic feature between phillipsi (cloacal scale entire) and sibilans (or rukwae, following Brandstätter, 1995; cloacal scale divided; see also Chippaux, 1999), some authors named all specimens (including those with divided cloacal scale) as ‘phillipsi’ (e.g., Akani et al., 2002a, 2002b, 2003).

Hughes (1999) found that cloacal-scale-entire (CSE) specimens dominate in his collections of phillipsi from West Africa (Liberia to Ghana), and cloacal-scale-divided (CSD) specimens dominate in Nigeria, Cameroon, and central African forests. He also concluded that “the West African, unpatterned specimens which Luiselli et al. have in the past identified as “P. phillipsi” (e.g. Hughes and Barry, 1968) comprises two forms which are likely to be distinct species: P. phillipsi is the name for the specimens from forest clearings with CSE condition; and those from savannah and sympatric with “P. sibilans”, are what Brandstätter treats as a new subspecies (“forest margin”)”, with mostly a CSD condition. 
References
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