Dasypeltis taylori BATES & BROADLEY, 2018
Can you confirm these amateur observations of Dasypeltis taylori?
|Higher Taxa||Colubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)|
|Synonym||Dasypeltis taylori BATES & BROADLEY 2018: 27|
Dasypeltis scabra var. Medici — MOCQUARD 1888: 131 (not Bianconi)
Dasypeltis scabra — ? SCORTECCI 1930: 213 (not Linnaeus)
Dasypeltis scabra — GANS 1959: 141 (part), Pl. VI, Fig. 6 & Pl. VII, Fig. 1
Dasypeltis scabra — BALLETTO 1968: 268 (part)
Dasypeltis scabra — LANZA 1983: 223 (part)
Dasypeltis scabra — LANZA 1990: 436 (part)
Dasypeltis scabra — INEICH 1999: 35
Dasypeltis scaber — PARKER 1949: 66 (not Linnaeus)
Dasypeltis “scabra” — GÖTHEL 2015: 19 (part)
Dasypeltis “scabra” — GÖTHEL 2015: 86 (part)
|Distribution||N Somalia, Djibouti|
Type locality: Haud [former British Somaliland, 08°20’N, 46°00’E at 2100 ft = 640 m] in northern Somalia
|Types||Holotype: BMNH 19126.96.36.199 (at Natural History Museum, London), a subadult male (Gans 1959), collected by Colonel R.H.R. Taylor on 20 April 1932 (Fig. 13).|
Paratypes. Seven specimens: SOMALIA (Somaliland). Allotype. BM 19188.8.131.52 (at Natural Histo- ry Museum, London), a subadult female (Gans 1959) with the same data as the holotype, but collected on 1 May 1932 (Gans 1959, Pl. VI, Fig. 6); BM 19184.108.40.206 (subadult male) with the same data as the holotype; BM 19220.127.116.11, adult female from Hargeisa District [9°35’N, 44°05’E at 4000 ft = 1220 m a.s.l.] collected 29 May 1932; BM 1992.501, male from 2.5 km WSW of Hargeisa [09°34’N, 44°03’E at 1275 m a.s.l.] collected 29 March 1992 by M.R.K. Lambert; BM 1918.104.22.168, adult male from Ogo [10°10’N, 42°50’E at 4500 ft = 1370 m a.s.l.] collected 6 August 1933; BM 1922.214.171.124, skin of a male from Garadak [09°29’N, 46°18’E at about 1100 m a.s.l.]. DJIBOUTI. MNHN 84–707, adult female from ‘Comalis’ [= Djibouti] (Fig. 14).
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis. Assigned to the genus Dasypeltis on ac- count 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 a combination of the following characters: Colour pat- tern usually consists of: large, usually closely-spaced, square to slightly rectangular saddles, separated by narrow, usually sharply defined, white crossbars (a variety of ‘5N’, Gans 1959, Pl. VI, Fig. 6); low num- bers of pattern cycles 44–59 (≥62 in patterned species/ populations of D. palmarum, D. fasciata, D. abyssi- na, D. atra, D. arabica sp. nov.; D. inornatus always uniform brown; D. gansi uniform or weakly marked); flanks decorated with dark vertical bars (spots, blotch- es or squarish in D. bazi, D. loveridgei comb. nov. and some populations of D. scabra); and venter im- maculate cream-white apart from a few dark markings at the edges (extensive dark markings in D. abyssina and many D. scabra); Frontal shield extensively pitted, States 3 & 4 (usually marginally pitted in most other species except D. medici, and some populations of D. scabra [especially in the south of its range] and D. love- ridgei comb. nov., which are similar); Inter-prefrontal sulcus usually moderately depressed (usually weakly marked in most other species, but moderate to well marked in D. arabica sp. nov., weakly to moderately marked in D. bazi, and variable in D. scabra [often well marked in the south of its range]); Low numbers of ventrals: 196–216 in males (≥219 in: D. arabica sp. nov. 236–244, D. abyssina 226–247, D. crucifera 226, D. gansi 221–240, D. latericia 219–243, mostly lower than D. medici 215–254 and D. bazi 213–229), 208–222 in females (lower than D. abyssina 241–271, D. arabica sp. nov. 239–254, D. gansi 235–259, D. latericia 234–262, D. crucifera sp. nov. 231–247, D. fasciata 225–260, D. parascabra 224–237; mostly lower than D. palmarum 220–248 and D. bazi 215, 219, 224–234); Low numbers of subcaudals: 55–68 in males (lower than D. inornata 81–92, D. fasciata 71–90, D. medici 69–109; mostly lower than D. gansi 68–83, D. palmarum 68–77, D. parascabra 67–74, D. latericia 66–86), 44–52 in females (lower than D. inor- nata 69–84, D. fasciata 64–84, D. parascabra 57–64, D. palmarum 62–77, D. medici 61–90, D. latericia 59– 72, D. gansi 59–73, D. arabica sp. nov. 53–61); Tail of moderate length: SVL/tail length 4.9–5.7 in males, 7.0–8.2 in females (in study area mostly greater than: D. medici 3.5–4.7 males, 4.5–5.7 females; D. fasciata 4.7–5.2 males, 4.8–6.4 females; see also Gans 1959); Nasal divided below the nostril (undivided in D. sahe- lensis and D. parascabra); Postoculars 2 on either side of head (often one, especially in western populations, of D. atra); Supralabials usually 7 (3rd and 4th enter orbit) on either side of head (usually 6[2,3] in D. love- ridgei comb. nov.).|
The new species is most similar to D. scabra, which usually has higher numbers of pattern cycles on the back—in surrounding countries/regions only two speci- mens, from southern Somalia (50–51 cycles) and a single snake from Sudan (54 cycles), have similarly low counts (Appendix 1 in Bates & Broadley 2018).
|Comment||Habitat. Grasslands to Vachellia–Commiphora bushland from 640 m to 1370 m (Figs 15 & 16). BM 1992.501 from 2.5 km WSW of Hargeisa was found on a limestone hillside (1275 m) with Vachellia etbaica Schweinfurth bushes.|
Mimicry. This species appears to mimic the saw- scaled viper Echis pyramidum Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (see photographs in Dobiey & Vogel 2007 and Mazuch 2013). The racer Platyceps taylori (Parker), in the Borama area of Somaliland, has a dorsal pattern (see photograph in Mazuch 2013) remarkably similar to that of D. taylori sp. nov.
|Etymology||The name of this new species is a patronym honouring Colonel R.H.R. Taylor, who collected about half of the type series while surveying the border between British Somaliland and Ethiopia in 1932–3.|