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Tropidophis preciosus CURCIO, SALES-NUNES, SUZART ARGOLO, SKUK & RODRIGUES, 2012

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Higher TaxaTropidophiidae, Henophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymTropidophis preciosus CURCIO, SALES NUNES, SUZART ARGOLO, SKUK & RODRIGUES 2012
Tropidophis preciosus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 755 
DistributionBrazil (Minas Gerais: southern versant of the Serra do Espinhaço)

Type locality: Conselheiro Mata, small village at approximately 40 km east from the municipality of Diamantina, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: MZUSP 17957, not labeled in field, adult female, September 1989, collected by G. Skuk.
Paratype.—LZVUFOP 913 S, adult female, collected at Parque Estadual do Itacolomi, between the municipalities of Mariana and Ouro Preto, state of Minas Gerais, by B.Y.P. Imai and V.S. Monteiro. 
CommentDiagnosis.—Tropidophis preciosus is distinguishable from other mainland congeners by the following combination of characters: (1) high number of ventrals (196–203 vs. 154–155 in T. grapiuna, 164–183 in T. paucisquamis, and up to 160 in T. taczanowskyi); (2) dorsals at midbody 23 (vs. dorsals at midbody 21 or 23, rarely 25 in T. paucisquamis); (3) vertebral scale row distinctively enlarged at least on posterior one-third of trunk (vs. vertebral row similar in size to other dorsal rows in T. battersbyi, T. grapiuna, and T. taczanowskyi); (4) most dorsals smooth, except for some feebly keeled rows on anteriormost region of body (vs. dorsals strongly keeled in T. grapiuna and T. taczanowskyi); (5) interparietals lacking (vs. well developed interparietals present in T. battersbyi and T. grapiuna, usually present in T. taczanowskyi); (6) parietals in broad contact along middorsal line of head (vs. parietals fully separated by interparietals in T. battersbyi and T. grapiuna); (7) maxillary teeth 19 (vs. 12 in T. battersbyi); (8) body spotted, dorsal spots irregular and small, with a diameter of approximately two dorsal scales (vs. dorsal spots large, rounded or elliptical, up to four scales in diameter in T. battersbyi); (9) eight spot rows around body, six on dorsum and two on venter (vs. six spot rows around body, four on dorsum and two on venter in T. battersbyi); and (10) . 50 spots on paravertebral spot rows (vs. , 39 T. battersbyi, T. grapiuna and T. paucisquamis; not applicable to T. taczanowskyi).

Comparisons (with other mainland Tropidophis). Ventral counts of T. preciosus are the highest among all mainland species. Comparable values are only reported for T. battersbyi (200), but color patterns of both species are remarkably different. Regarding the species of the Atlantic Forest, the ventral counts of T. preciosus are 20 scales greater the upper limit reported for T. paucisquamis (183) and almost 50 scales greater than the counts for T. grapiuna (154–155). The en- largement of scales of the vertebral row present in the posterior portion of the trunk of the holotype of T. preciosus is similar to the pattern present in several specimens of T. paucisquamis, although in the latter species this feature is usually present throughout the whole trunk.

Habitat: T. preciosus is the only species from the Atlantic Forest occurring in open landscapes of rocky meadows, whereas T. grapiuna and T. paucisquamis are clearly associated with forest formations. 
EtymologyEtymology.—The specific epithet is a Latin adjective in the nominative singular as a reference to the particular gem richness in the region of the type locality, especially in the municipalities of Diamantina, Ouro Preto and Mariana. 
References
  • Curcio, Felipe Franco; Pedro M. Sales Nunes, Antônio Jorge Suzart Argolo, Gabriel Skuk, and Miguel Trefaut Rodrigues 2012. Taxonomy of the South American Dwarf Boas of the Genus Tropidophis Bibron, 1840, With the Description of Two New Species from the Atlantic Forest (Serpentes: Tropidophiidae). Herpetological Monographs 26 (1): 80-121. - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
 
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