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Tropidophis steinleini DÍAZ & CÁDIZ, 2020

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Higher TaxaTropidophiidae, Henophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymTropidophis steinleini DÍAZ & CÁDIZ 2020 
DistributionCuba (Guantánamo Province)

Type locality: surroundings of the lighthouse of Maisí, Guantánamo Province (20°14’32.0”N; 74°08’36.9”W)  
TypesHolotype. MNHNCu 5079 an adult female collected by Luis M. Díaz and Antonio Cádiz on October 31 of 2014. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Species in the Tropidophis pardalis species group as defined in the herein-presented molecular phylogeny (see Fig. 3, also Fig. 6 for species comparisons, and the Discussion). Body slender and laterally compressed; head distinctive from neck; 6 rows of dark blotches around body; some of the paravertebral and lateral blotches are longitudinally fused; 23 scale rows around midbody; 188 ventral scales; an evident groove above the supralabial scales; first supralabial slightly higher than second. Regarding morphology and the phylogenetic relationships, the new species is most similar to T. spiritus, T. morenoi and T. wrighti (Table I; Fig. 6 F, G, H, respectively). In the three species the first supralabial scale is much lower than second one; the head is gradually tapered in profile compared with the flat head top and a higher snout of the new species; a groove over the supralabial scales is absent (Fig. 2). T. wrighti has four rows of large blotches around body instead of 6, contrasting on a homogenous gray to white-colored background (Fig. 6H); some of the blotches are fused at the mid-dorsum but not in a distinctive longitudinal way; ventral scale counts (192–222) are higher than in Tropidophis steinleini sp. nov. T. morenoi and T. spiritus have 183–200 ventral scales, widely overlapping with Tropidophis steinleni sp. nov., and similar coloration considering that the three species have 6 rows of blotches around the midbody and pale lower flanks; however, the head shape is different (Fig. 2) as mentioned above. The snout is slightly shorter in available T. spiritus and T. morenoi (30–33 % of head length, x = 31 %, n = 7) compared with Tropidophis steinleini sp. nov. (34 %); paravertebral blotches are not longitudinally enlarged in T. spiritus and T. morenoi (Fig. 6 F, G), but instead some transversal fusion may exist, giving them a banded appearance (a condition not present in the new species); head is darker in T. spiritus and T. morenoi, with more evident and contrasting pattern of blotches and stripes which is somewhat diffuse or barely evident in Tropidophis steinleini sp. nov.

Color in life. Overall coloration in tones of brown, reddish-brown, tan and cream; dark blotches very conspicuous over the much paler interstitial areas. Color slightly changes with metachrosis. Description following color references by Köhler (2012): Dorsal dark blotches Maroon (color 39) to Warm Sepia (color 40). Blotches surrounded by a distinctively paler ring of Chamois (color 84). Interstitial areas among blotches are a combination of Cinnamon-Rufous (color 31) and Brick Red (color 36). Ventral coloration starts on lower flanks and is Cream White (color 52). Blotches on ventral surface same color like dorsal ones or Prout ́s Brown (color 47). Head dorsally with a combination of Cinnamon (color 21) and Kingfisher Rufous (color 28); barely patterned. Eyes Drab (color 19), with paler borders of Cinnamon Drab (color 50), and a weak central band of Natal Brown (color 49). A nuchal area of similar coloration than eye.

Diaz & Cadiz 2020 also provide a diagnosis in Spanish.
CommentDistribution: for a map (and comparison with 3 other species) see Diaz & Cadiz 2020: 8 (Fig. 4). 
EtymologyThe species is named with gratitude, after a German colleague of the authors, Claus Steinlein, for his support of the authors’ herpetological research in Cuba. 
  • Díaz, L. M. y Cádiz, A. 2020. A new species of Tropidophis (Squamata: Tropidophiidae) and molecular phylogeny of the Cuban radiation of the genus. Novitates Caribaea (16): 1-19; doi: 10.33800/nc.vi16.222 - get paper here
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