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Cerberus dunsoni MURPHY, VORIS & KARNS, 2012

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Higher TaxaHomalopsidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymCerberus dunsoni MURPHY, VORIS & KARNS 2012
Cerberus dunsoni — MURPHY & VORIS 2014: 12
Cerberus dunsoni — WALLACH et al. 2014: 155 
DistributionMicronesia: Palau Islands

Type locality: Micronesia: Palau Islands: Arakabesang (formerly Ngerekebesang) Island (~7°20’N 134°27’E).  
TypesHolotype: AMNH 116021, female. Paratypes. Micronesia, Palau: AMNH: Oreor Island (~7°19’N 134°28’E) 70651; Arakabesang (formerly Ngerekebesang) Island (~7°20’N 134°27’E) 116020–21; UMMZ 65857; Babeldaob Island, Ulimang village (~7° 29’N 134°34’E) USNM 507563, Oreor Island, Ngesaol village 531967. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Cerberus dunsoni can be distinguished from all other members of the genus with 23 scales rows at midbody by its rounded, juxtaposed, plate-like scales on the crown; these scales appear to be thickened compared to the scales of other Cerberus species. The 9th upper labial is horizontally divided. These characters, combined with large parietal scale fragments and its uniform black venter, make this a very distinctive species. The large, plate-like fragments of the parietals may fuse with the temporal scales. The parietal scales in other Cerberus are usually fragmented into small scales similar to other scales on the crown. The scales on the crown anterior to the level of the angle of the jaw usually lack keels; all other Cerberus with the exception of C. australis have scales with keels anterior to the level of the angle of the jaw. Crown scales are distinctly rounded and juxtaposed; in other Cerberus these scales tend to be sharp-edged and slightly imbricate. Light pigment forms an irregular ventrolateral stripe involving scale rows 1–2; this stripe involves rows 1–3 or 1–4 in other Cerberus with the exception of C. microlepis which has 27–29 scale rows at midbody. The ventral pattern is uniform black or dark brown in preserved C. dunsoni, while all other species have a mottled ventral surface, or one with an irregular central stripe of dark pigment. This species tends to have a broader, more robust head than the other species in the genus and it lacks the dorsolateral pattern of bars or incomplete cross bands. 
EtymologyThis species is named in honor of William A. Dunson for his pioneering work in osmoregulation in reptiles. 
  • Murphy, J.C. & Voris, H.K. 2014. A Checklist and Key to the Homalopsid Snakes (Reptilia, Squamata, Serpentes), with the Description of New Genera. FIELDIANA: LIFE AND EARTH SCIENCES (8): 1–43 - get paper here
  • MURPHY, JOHN C.; HAROLD K. VORIS & DARYL R. KARNS, 2012. The dog-faced water snakes, a revision of the genus Cerberus Cuvier, (Squamata, Serpentes, Homalopsidae), with the description of a new species. Zootaxa 3484: 1–34 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
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