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Ahaetulla sahyadrensis MALLIK, SRIKANTHAN, PAL, D’SOUZA, SHANKER & GANESH, 2020

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Ahaetuliinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymAhaetulla sahyadrensis MALLIK, SRIKANTHAN, PAL, D’SOUZA, SHANKER & GANESH 2020 (nom. nov.)
Passerita mycterizans var. fuscus — GÜNTHER 1858 (not DUMÉRIL et al. 1854)
Passerita mycterizans var. fuscus — BEDDOME 1862 (not DUMÉRIL et al. 1854)
Dryophis pulverulentus — WALL 1919: 574 (not DUMÉRIL et al. 1854)
Dryophis pulverulenta indica DERANIYAGALA 1955 (non Dryophis prasinus indicus MELL 1931)
Ahaetulla indica (DERANIYAGALA 1955) — nomen praoeccupatum pro Ahaetulla indica (MELL 1931)
Ahaetulla sahyadrensis — MALLIK et al. 2020: 
DistributionIndia (Western Ghats, Kerala, Tamil Nadu), Bangladesh

Neotype locality: Castle Rock, Karnataka, (15.393° N, 74.332° E)  
Reproduction 
TypesNeotype. BNHS 2015; Neoparatypes. BNHS 2012, BNHS 2016, CESS159 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: This is a species of usually grey-brown coloured Ahaetulla having an elongate multi-scaled rostral appendage and a rhomboid crown marking (vs. rostral scale not multi-scaled in all other sympatric Ahaetulla spp.; except A. anomala and A. pulverulenta); lacking white or yellow ventrolateral stripe (vs. present in all regional congeners except A. pulverulenta,); 7 pre-diastemal and 6 post-diastemal maxillary teeth (vs. 7 and 9 in A. isabellina comb. nov., 6 and 7 in A. malabarica sp. nov., vs. 6 and 11 in A. farnsworthi sp. nov., vs. 6 and 8 in A. borealis sp. nov., vs. 7 and 7 in A. oxyrhyncha comb. nov. & 8 and 7 in A. pulverulenta from Sri Lanka, dissected from BNHS 2010); differs from the northern Indian A. laudankia in having much lower ventral scale counts (vs. never less than 192 in A. laudankia), higher subcaudal scale counts (vs. never more than 185 in A. laudankia); differs from A. pulverulenta s. str. (of Sri Lanka) in ventral scale counts 182–203 [186–202 in our study] (vs. 179–193 [182–186 in BNHS specimens] in A. pulverulenta s. str.) and subcaudal scale counts 169–208 [175–208 in our study] (vs. 151–178 [158–159 in BNHS specimens] in A. pulverulenta s. str.). The Sri Lankan A. pulverulenta specimens from BNHS also have 10–11 scale rows near the vent whereas A. sahyadrensis has 12–13 rows near the vent (Fig. 11 & 12, Table 2).
4. Being distributed in the Western Ghats, it is separated by a geographic barrier from Sri Lankan A. pulverulenta and is also separated from the lowland species Ahaetulla oxyrhyncha (Bell, 1825) comb. nov. and A. anomala by occupying a range in the wet hill-forest habitats (Mallik et al. 2020: 25).

Colour in life. Dorsum with uniform light brown body with dark brown anteriorly-converging bars from nape till midbody; head with characteristic dark brown rhomboid markings, rostral appendage and eye stripe from the nostril to the nape dark brown; supralabials, infralabials and mentum white with brown spots of variable sizes; venter light brown, finely dotted with dark brown spots (Fig. 11h–k, Mallik et al. 2020). 
CommentSynonymy: after Mallik et al. 2020.

Distribution: See map in Mallik et al. 2020: 14 (Fig. 4). 
EtymologyNamed after distribution in the Western Ghats or Sahyadri hills. 
References
  • Beddome, R.H. 1862. Notes upon the land and freshwater snakes of the Madras Presidency. Madras Quart. J. Med. Sci., 5: 1-31
  • Deraniyagala. PAUL E. PIERIS 1955. A colored atlas of some vertebrates from Ceylon. Vol. 3. Serpentoid Reptilia. Colombo, xix + 121 pp. - get paper here
  • Günther, A. 1858. Catalogue of Colubrine snakes of the British Museum. London, I - XVI, 1 - 281
  • MALLIK, A. K., SRIKANTHAN, A. N., PAL, S. P., D’SOUZA, P. M., SHANKER, K., & GANESH, S. R. 2020. Disentangling vines: a study of morphological crypsis and genetic divergence in vine snakes (Squamata: Colubridae: Ahaetulla) with the description of five new species from Peninsular India. Zootaxa 4874 (1): 1-62 - get paper here
  • Mell,R. 1931. List of Chinese snakes. Lingnan Sci. Jour., Canton, 8 [1929]: 199-219.
  • Wall,F. 1919. Notes on a collection of Snakes made in the Nilgiri Hills and the adjacent Wynaad. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 26: 552-584 - get paper here
 
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