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Eirenis rafsanjanicus AKBARPOUR, RASTEGAR-POUYANI, FATHINIA & RASTEGAR-POUYANI, 2020

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymEirenis rafsanjanicus AKBARPOUR, RASTEGAR-POUYANI, FATHINIA & RASTEGAR-POUYANI 2020 
DistributionSC Iran (Kerman)

Type locality: Raviz village, 30.36275N 55.42825E, 2266 m elevation, Kerman Province, south-central Iran.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. RUZM CE11.1: an adult female collected on 28 July 2018 by Morteza Akbarpour.
Paratype. RUZM CE11.2: an adult male collected from Raviz village, 30.3605278N 55.4273611E, 2282 m a.s.l., Kerman Province, southeastern Iran, on 12 April 2019 by Alireza Sahebi. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: not provided

Description of the holotype. Slender body; small head, not distinct from the neck; eyes with round pupils; two internasals with a suture between them which is shorter than that between the prefrontals; undivided nasal; frontal longer (3.4 mm) than wide (1.8 mm); supraoculars narrower anteriorly; parietals large, longer than the frontal; one loreal, square-shaped on both right and left sides; one preocular and two postocular(s); subocular absent; 1+2 temporals; 7 supralabials (3rd and 4th in contact with the eye); 9 infralabials on each side; a large pair of anterior chin shields, in contact with the first four infralabials and posterior chin shields, but not in contact with mental; posterior pair of chain shields much shorter than anterior pair (2.8 mm vs. 3.7 mm), posterior chin shields separated by a pair of oblique scales; dorsal scales smooth, in 17 rows at midbody; 173 ventrals; anal and subcaudal scales divided, 78 subcaudals (Akbarpour et al. 2020).

Morphometric characters. Snout-vent length 280 mm; tail length 93.7 mm; head length 12.8 mm; head width 8.1 mm; and head height 5.1 mm (Akbarpour et al. 2020).

Color pattern. The upper surface of the head is uniformly light brown; supralabials and preand postoculars with creamy patches. The dorsal body is beige or light brownish grey with transverse parallel black dorsal bands which run regularly from nape to mid-body, changing to longitudinal parallel stripes on the posterior part of the body and on the tail; ventral side of body and head is creamy (Akbarpour et al. 2020).

Variation: variation of morphometric characters between the holotype and the only paratype are presented in Supplementary Table 1. Paratype has a larger number of ventral and subcaudal scales than holotype (Paratype: 184 ventrals, 84 subcaudals; holotype: 173 ventrals, 78 subcaudals), but the ratio of SvL to TL in the holotype is more than in the paratype (3.2 vs. 2.4). The holotype has two post-ocular scales on each side while the paratype has one post-ocular scale on the right side (Akbarpour et al. 2020).

Comparison. Based on the number of dorsal scales at mid-body, the genus Eirenis is divided into two groups (15 and 17 dorsal scales at mid-body). Eirenis rafsanjanicus sp. n. with 17 dorsal scales is nested within its congeners having the same character: i.e. E. africanus, E. aurolineatus, E. barani, E. decemlineatus, E. hakkariensis, E. levantinus, E. lineomaculatus, E. modestus, E. punctatolineatus, and E. yassujicus. So, at this very first stage of comparison, E. rafsanjanicus sp. n. is easily distinguished from other congeners with 15 dorsals at midbody: E. angusticeps, E. collaris, E. coronella, E. coronelloides, E. eiselti, E. kermanensis, E. mcmahoni, E. medus, E. nigrofasciatus, E. persicus, E. occidentalis, E. rothii, E. rechingeri, E. thospitis and E. walteri. Eirenis rafsanjanicus sp. n. is closer in meristic characters to E. modestus than to other congeners (Supplementary Table 1), but the two differ in color pattern. Having imbricate dorsal scales, Eirenis rafsanjanicus sp. n. has parallel transverse black bands which extend to the tail forming narrow lines on the posterior half of the body, while the dorsal color pattern in E. modestus is uniform. Dorsal color pattern in E. rafsanjanicus sp. n. is different from all other congeners with 17 mid-dorsal scales and it is reminiscent of the dorsal pattern in E. kermanensis. ventral body pattern in E. rafsanjanicus sp. n. is uniform like in other congeners having 17 mid-dorsal scales except for E. lineomaculatus. E. rafsanjanicus sp. n. has a larger number of both ventrals and subcaudals than E. yassujicus, E. lineomaculatus, and E. africanus and lower number of subcaudals than E. levantinus, and E. hakkariensis. Posterior chin-shields in E. modestus and E. rafsanjanicus sp. n. are separated by one and two scales, respectively. Separation by a pair of oblique scales distinguished the new species from other congeners. Unlike E. lineomaculatus, the loreal scale is present in E. rafsanjanicus sp. n. and in other congeners having 17 mid-dorsal scales (Akbarpour et al. 2020). 
Comment 
EtymologyThis species is named after Rafsanjan County in Kerman Province, where the holotype and paratype specimens were collected. 
References
  • Akbarpour, Morteza; Nasrullah Rastegar-Pouyani; Behzad Fathinia; Eskandar Rastegar-Pouyani 2020. A new species of the genus Eirenis Jan, 1863 (Squamata: Colubridae) from Kerman Province in South-central Iran. Zootaxa 4868 (1): 117-128 - get paper here
 
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