Atheris mabuensis BRANCH & BAYLISS, 2009
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|Higher Taxa||Viperidae, Viperinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)|
|Synonym||Atheris mabuensis BRANCH & BAYLISS 2009|
Atheris sp. — DOBIEY and VOGEL 2007: 110
Atheris mabuensis — LIVIGNI 2013: 281
Atheris mabuensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 62
Type locality: main forest camp, Mount Mabu (16°17’12”S, 36°24’14”E, 1000 m elevation), Mozambique.
|Types||Holotype: PEM R17901, collected by local hunter, 20 October 2008.|
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis: Atheris mabuensis is distinguished from all other members of the genus by a combination of characters: (1) its small size, maximum length 384mm (all other Atheris exceed 580mm TL, with the exception of - A. katangensis, TL 397mm; A. barbouri, TL 369 mm (Barbour and Howell, 1998); and the unique type of A. acuminata, TL 440mm); (2) the lack of ‘horns’ (enlarged supraocular scales are present in A ceratophora); (3) the lack of lanceolate or acuminate scales on top of the head (present in A. hispida and A. acuminata); (4) having weakly keeled gular scales (smooth only in A. nitschei; gulars moderately keeled in the eastern species, A. rungweensis, A. desaixi, A. ceratophora and A. katangensis, and strongly keeled in the remaining central and western species); (5) lacking interoculabials (sensu Broadley, 1998, i.e. the supralabials are in contact with circumorbitals; 1 or 2 in A. desaixi and A. rungweensis); (6) having 19–21 transverse head scales (sensu Broadley, 1998, i.e. number of scales across head between posterior supralabials; these are reduced in highly arboreal species, e.g. A. squamigera, 15–22, A. hispida, 12; and A. acuminata, 10); (7) having 21–23 MSR (most species have 27+ MSR rows; reduced in highly arboreal species such as A. squamigera, 15–25, A. hispida, 15–19, and A. acuminata, 14); (8) lateral body scales not serrated (strongly serrated in A. ceratophora, A. desaixi, A. nitschei, and A. rungweensis, and weakly serrated in A. katangensis); (9) having 8–9 supralabials (six in A. acuminata, 10–12 in A. desaixi); (10) having low ventral counts 128–137 (this is the lowest in the genus; usually over 140 in both sexes in A. nitschei, A. rungweensis, A. desaixi, A. chlorechis, A. hispida, and A. subocularis, and in the only known males of A. acuminata (160) and A. hirsuta (160); (11) having low subcaudal counts - 39–47 (always higher than 45 in A. rungweensis, A. ceratophora, A. chlorechis, A. squamigera and A. hispida; and 54 and 58 in the only known males of A. acuminata and A. hirsuta, respectively); and (12) having a prehensile tail (non-prehensile in A. barbouri), and higher subcaudal (A. barbouri 15–21) and labial (A. barbouri, supralabials 5–6, infralabials 4–5) counts [from BRANCH & BAYLISS 2009].|
|Comment||Venomous! Local hunters also noted that bites from the species were painful but not lethal.|
Distribution: This is the most southerly record of the genus, and the first record from Mozambique.
Morphology and diet: It appears to be a dwarf, possibly paedomorphic, species that feeds among leaf litter on small frogs and geckos.
Habitat: trees (arboreal)
|Etymology||Named after the type locality, Mount Mabu, Zambezia Province, northern Mozambique.|
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