Boaedon branchi HALLERMANN, CERÍACO, SCHMITZ, ERNST, CONRADIE, VERBURGT, MARQUES & BAUER, 2020
Can you confirm these amateur observations of Boaedon branchi?
|Higher Taxa||Lamprophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)|
|Common Names||E: Branch’s Brown House Snake|
P: Serpente Castanha de Branch
|Synonym||Boaedon branchi HALLERMANN, CERÍACO, SCHMITZ, ERNST, CONRADIE, VERBURGT, MARQUES & BAUER 2020: 32|
Boaedon cf. angolensis — CONRADIE et al. 2016: 22) [part]
Boaedon capensis-fuliginosus-lineatus complex — BRANCH 2018: 57) [part]
Boaedon angolensis — MARQUES et al. 2018: 327 [part]
Boaedon angolensis — BRANCH et al. 2019: 323 [part]
|Distribution||Angola (SE Cuando Cubango Province)|
Type locality: about 47.5 km E of Menongue on road to Cuito Cuanavale (−14.59517°, 18.07111°, 1 497 m), Cuando Cubango Province, Angola
|Types||Holotype: PEM R21846 (field no. ANG 15 56; Figures 9A, 9B) an adult male, collected by William R. Branch on 8 June 2015.|
Paratype: PEM R23538 (field no. WC-4652) subadult male from Longa River (−14.55956°, 18.41406°, 1 319 m), Cuando Cubango Province, Angola, collected on 4 November 2016 by unknown collector and presented to Luke Verburgt.
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis: Boaedon branchi sp. nov. (Figures 9A, 9B) can be distinguished from most congeners by its yellowish-olive ground life colour, with two fine white stripes on the side of the head, an upper stripe from above the eye to the posterior temporal region and a lower stripe from the lower preocular to the posterior supralabial, no lateral stripes on body and the first 1–3 dorsal scale rows immaculate white.|
Among Angolan species, B. branchi sp. nov. can be distinguished from B. fuliginosus by having a shorter snout (the length of the parietals is longer than the distance between the frontal and the end of snout versus the parietal length is equal to the length between the frontal and end of snout). B. branchi sp. nov. differs from B. angolensis in lacking a thin white stripe on lower side of neck (versus stripe present in most specimens in B. angolensis), its yellowish-olive ground colour in life (versus brown or olive ground colour) and by having 29 MSR in males (versus 25–28). It can be distinguished from B. bocagei sp. nov., by having 29 MSR (versus 25–27) by lacking a dark bordered head stripe (versus a dark bordered head stripe present) and two supralabials touching eye (versus three supralabials touching eye). It can be distinguished from B. variegatus by having a lower number of ventral scales (197–210 versus 218–240), and 1–2 preoculars (versus one), the upper of which, when present, is in contact with the frontal at one point, and a yellowish olive colouration (versus brown colouration with looping white or yellowish markings). It can be differentiated from B. virgatus by having 29 MSR (versus 25 or fewer), and a whitish venter (versus pigmented venter); from B. mentalis sensu stricto by not having the second chin shields separated from each other (versus second chin shields often completely separated from each other by the anterior chin shields) and its yellowish ground colour (versus light brown ground colour); and from B. olivaceus by having a double row of subcaudals (versus a single row). It differs from B. fradei sp. nov. by the lower 2–3 dorsal scales rows being immaculate white (versus pigmented) and by its yellowish ground colour (versus dark brown to olive ground colour).
Boaedon branchi sp. nov. can be distinguished from other congeners occurring in the region by the following combinations of characters: from the nominotypical B. lineatus by its lower number of MSR (29 versus 29–31 in B. lineatus) and a yellowish-olive ground colour and no lateral stripes on body (versus predominantly brown colouration with stripes on the side of the body); from B. capensis by the parietals longer than the distance between frontal and end of snout (versus the length of the parietals is no longer than the distance between frontal and end of snout) and loreal length to height ratio greater than 2 (versus less than 2); from B. littoralis by a yellowish body colouration (versus light brown); from B. subflavus by having fewer ventral scales in males (197–210 versus 213–229) and 29 MSR (versus 29–31); from B. perisilvestris by having 29 MSR (versus 29–31) and by its yellowish-olive colouration (versus dark brown); from B. paralineatus by having fewer ventral scales in males (197–210 versus 225–243), 29 MSR (versus more than 31), fine white stripes present only on head (versus stripes on head and body); from B. longilineatus by having no stripes on neck and body and yellowish colouration (versus broad upper head and body stripes on first quarter of body and a brown body colouration); from B. upembae by having more ventral scales in males (197–210 versus 175–180), and by having 29 MSR (versus 21–23); and from B. radfordi by having a double row of subcaudals (versus a single row).
|Etymology||The specific epithet is a patronym in the masculine genitive singular named after the British-born South African herpetologist William (Bill) Roy Branch (1946–2018), in honour of his inspiring work on the Angolan herpetofauna. Bill was a collaborator on this work for many years, but died in October 2018, as the manuscript was drawing near to completion.|