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Dasypeltis arabica BROADLEY & BATES, 2018

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Arabian Egg-eater 
SynonymDasypeltis arabica BROADLEY & BATES in BATES & BROADLEY 2018: 46
Dasypeltis scabra — BOULENGER 1905: 180 (not Linnaeus)
Dasypeltis scabra — LEVITON & ALDRICH 1984: xxiii
Dasypeltis scabra — GANS 1959: 141 (part)
Dasypeltis scabra — GANS 1961: 73 (part)
Dasypeltis scabra — ? CORKILL & COCHRANE 1965: 485
Dasypeltis scabra — SPANÒ 1972: 132
Dasypeltis scabra — GASPERETTI 1988: 233, 410
‘Dasypeltis scabra — SCHÄTTI & DESVOIGNES 1999: 82
Dasypeltis scabra — SCHÄTTI & GASPERETTI 1994: 386
Dasypeltis saeizadi HOSER 2013: 60 (nomen dubium)
Dasypeltis saeizadi — GÖTHEL 2015: 19
Dasypeltis saeizadi — GÖTHEL 2015: 92
Dasypeltis saeizadi — SALEH & SARHAN 2016: 36.
Dasypeltis cf. scabra — SINDACO et al. 2013: 93 (part) 
DistributionN Yemen, S Saudi Arabia

Type locality: Sana’a, North Yemen [15°19’N, 44°14’E]  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1987.2192 (at Natural History Museum, London), an adult female (oviducts examined), collected by M. Al-Safadi (Figs 27 & 28).
Paratypes. Six specimens: YEMEN. Allotype. BM 1903.6.26.41 (at Natural History Museum, London; wrongly listed as ‘xBM 03-6-21-41’ by Gans 1959), an adult male (Gans 1959) from El Kubar, South Yemen [14°25’N, 45°01’E] collected by G.W. Bury; BM 1987.2193, adult female from Taiz, North Yemen [13°35’N, 44°01’E] collected by M. Al-Safadi; MSNG 52221, male from El Siyani, North Yemen, collected by G. Scortecci, 13 August 1965. SAUDI ARABIA. BM 1987.1018, female from Ajibah [19o41’N, 41°57’E] collected by J. Gasperetti (Fig. 29); MHNG 2536.41, male from Aqabat Raydah [NE 1942C]; MHNG 2536.42, female from vicinity of Abha [about 18°13’N, 42°30’S]. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Assigned to the genus Dasypeltis on account of its slender form, possession of (usually 3–4) rows of reduced, oblique, keeled and serrated lateral scales (little or no serration in D. inornata) and head barely distinct from the neck (moderately distinct in D. fasciata). Distinguished from other congeners by its unique dorsal colour pattern in which black rectangular saddles and lateral bars form complete closure around the pale inter-saddle areas (Figs 27A & 29A; this pattern also occurs on parts of the back of a few D. abyssina from Eritrea, see pattern‘5I’ of Gans 1959, Pl. VI, Fig. 4); together with a combination of the following characters: Pattern cycles 62–79 (≤62 in D. crucifera sp. nov., D. taylori sp. nov. and D.bazi; D. inornatus always uniform brown above; D. gansi uniform or weakly marked); flanks decorated with dark vertical bars (spots, blotches or squarish in D. bazi, D. loveridgei comb. nov., and some populations of D. scabra—e.g. Fig. 5G); and venter immaculate apart from a few dark markings at the edges (extensive dark markings in D. abyssina and many D. scabra); High numbers of ventrals: 236–244 in males (higher than D. scabra 180–226, D. taylori sp. nov. 196–216, D. confusa 199–227, D. atra 199–232, D. sahelensis 207–221, D. inornata 208–225, D. bazi 213–229, D. parascabra 210–223 and D. crucifera sp. nov. 226), 239–254 in females (higher than D. taylori sp. nov. 208–222, D. sahelensis 212–237, D. bazi 215–234, D. inornata 219-237, D. parascabra 224–237); Subcaudals 63–65 in males (higher than D. loveridgei comb. nov. 47–58, D. bazi 59–61, D. crucifera sp. nov. 61; lower than D. inornata 81–92, D. fasciata 59, 71–91, D. medici 69–109, D. gansi 68–83, D. palmarum 68–77, D. parascabra 67–74, D. latericia 66–86), 53–61 in females (higher than D. loveridgei comb. nov. 39–50, D. taylori sp. nov. 44–52, D. crucifera sp. nov. 49–52; lower than D. inornata 69–84, D. fasciata 64–84, D. palmarum 62–77; mostly lower than D. medici 61–90); Inter-prefrontal sulcus usually moderately, occasionally deeply, marked (usually weakly marked in other species, but weakly to moderately marked in D. bazi, usually moderately marked in D. taylori sp. nov., and variable in D. scabra [often well marked in the south of its range]); Frontal shield marginally pitted, usually State 1 (extensively pitted, States 3 & 4, in D. medici, D. taylori sp. nov. and many populations of D. scabra especially in the south of its range); Nasal divided below the nostril (undivided in D. sahelensis and D. parascabra); Postoculars 2 on either side of head (often one, especially in western populations, of D. atra); Supralabials 7 (3rd and 4th enter orbit) on either side of head (usually 6[2,3] in D. loveridgei comb. nov.).
CommentHabitat. This species occurs in the south-western highlands of Saudi Arabia and Yemen from 1300 m to 2300 m (annual rainfall exceeds 300 mm).

Mimicry. Dasypeltis arabica sp. nov. may mimic Echis coloratus Günther (see photographs from the Sinai Peninsula in Dobiey & Vogel [2007]). Gasperetti (1988) showed that E. coloratus also occurred from Saudia Arabia to the south coast of Yemen, and illus- trated a topotype from Jabel Grayyah in Saudia Arabia (his Fig. 123) showing pale vertebral spots (described as ‘pinkish’ in the description of the holotype by Gün- ther [1878]). The new species is also similar to Echis megalocephalus (BATES & BROADLEY 2018: Fig. 30).

Distribution: For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013. 
EtymologyThe name of the new species refers to the region of origin (Arabia) of the type series.
  • Bates, M.F. & D.G. Broadley 2018. A revision of the egg-eating snakes of the genus Dasypeltis Wagler (Squamata: Colubridae: Colubrinae) in north-eastern Africa and south-western Arabia, with descriptions of three new species. Indago 34 (1): 1-95 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1905. Descriptions of three new snakes discovered in South Arabia by Mr. G.W. Bury. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (7) xvi: 178-180 - get paper here
  • Corkill, N. L. and Cochrane, J. A. 1966. The snakes of the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra. J. Bombay nat. Hist. Soc. 62 (3): 475-506 (1965) - get paper here
  • Gans, C. 1959. A taxonomic revision of the African snake genus Dasypeltis (Reptilia: Serpentes). Annales du Musée Royal du Congo Belge Tervuren 74: ix + 237 pp.
  • Gans, Carl 1961. Mimicry in procryptically colored snakes of the genus Dasypeltis. Evolution 15 (1): 72-91 - get paper here
  • Gasperetti,J. 1988. Snakes of Arabia. Fauna of Saudi Arabia 9: 169-450
  • Göthel, Helmut 2015. Die Eierschlangenarten Afrikas. Draco 16 (61): 78-92 - get paper here
  • Göthel, Helmut 2015. Die Pazifisten unter den Schlangen – Afrikanische Eierschlangen der Gattung Dasypeltis. Draco 16 (61): 6-21 - get paper here
  • Hoser, R.T. 2013. A new egg-eating snake from the southern Arabian Peninsula (Squamata: Serpentes: Colubridae:Colubrinae:Boigini). Australasian J. Herpetol. 21: 59-63 - get paper here
  • Leviton, A.E., & Aldrich, M.L. 1984. Checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of the Arabian Peninsula. in Anderson, John, Herpetology of Arabia (Soc. for the Study of Amphs. and Reps., Athens, OH): xv-xxv.
  • SALEH, Mostafa & Moustafa SARHAN 2016. The egg-eating snake (Colubridae: Dasypeltis) of Faiyum, Egypt, with the description of a new species. Bull. Soc. Herp. France 160 : 25-48
  • Schätti, B. & Gasperetti, J. 1994. A contribution to the herpetofauna of Southwest Arabia. Fauna of Saudi Arabia 14: 348-423
  • Schätti, B., Desvoignes, A. 1999. The herpetofauna of southern Yemen and the Sokotra Archipelago. Muséum d'histoire naturelle Genéve, Genéve.
  • Sindaco, R.; Alberto Venchi & Cristina Grieco 2013. The Reptiles of the Western Palearctic, Volume 2: Annotated Checklist and Distributional Atlas of the Snakes of Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia, with an Update to Volume 1. Edizioni Belvedere, Latina (Italy), 543 pp. - get paper here
  • SPANO, S. 1972. Missioni Scortecci nell’Arabia Meridionale (1962–1965): Leptotyphlopidae e Colubridae (Ophidia). Bolletino di Museo di Istituto di Zoologia dell’Università di Genova 40: 131–135
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