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Liopholidophis oligolepis GLAW, KUCHARZEWSKI, NAGY, HAWLITSCHEK & VENCES, 2013

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Higher TaxaPseudoxyrhophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymLiopholidophis oligolepis GLAW, KUCHARZEWSKI, NAGY, HAWLITSCHEK & VENCES 2013 
DistributionNE Madagascar (Marojejy National Park)

Type locality: Marojejy National Park, near a campsite locally known as "Camp Mantella" (14°26.260'S, 49°46.533'E; 481 m a.s.l.), northeastern Madagascar  
TypesHolotype: ZSM 153/2005 (field number FGZC 2796), probably adult female, collected on 15 February 2005 by F. Glaw, M. Vences & R. D. Randrianiaina. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A species attributed to Liopholidophis because of its general morphology and its position in the molecular phylogenetic tree. Liopholidophis oligolepis differs from all other lamprophiid snakes of Madagascar except L. baderi by the presence of only 15 dorsal scale rows around midbody. In addition it differs from all other species of Liopholidophis except L. rhadinaea and L. baderi by a uniformly red belly in life that fades in preservative (never red in all other species) and by the presence of a light marking in the neck (versus absence). The new species differs from L. rhadinaea by having fewer ventrals in the female (17 versus 170–179), fewer subcaudals in the female (54 versus 69–88) and proba- bly smaller size. L. oligolepis is most similar in morphology and small size to its sister species L. baderi but differs by having fewer ventrals (17 versus 149–158), fewer subcaudals (54 versus 71–77) and probably details of colouration (neck with two light spots connected to a light band versus three isolated light spots), smaller SVL (179.5 mm versus 205–221.5 mm) and smaller tail length (54.5 mm versus 78–91 mm). L. oligolepis differs furthermore from all other Liopholidophis species by substantial genetic differentiation. 
EtymologyThe species name oligolepis is derived from the two Greek words, "oligo" meaning "few" and "lepis" meaning "scale," and refers to the very low scale counts of this species (15 dorsal scale rows, 137 ventrals, 54 subcaudals), which are unique among Malagasy snakes. It is used as a noun in apposition. 
  • Glaw, Frank; Christoph Kucharzewski; Zoltán T. Nagy; Oliver Hawlitschek; Miguel Vences 2013. New insights into the systematics and molecular phylogeny of the Malagasy snake genus Liopholidophis suggest at least one rapid reversal of extreme sexual dimorphism in tail length. Org Divers Evol, DOI 10.1007/s13127-013-0152-4 - get paper here
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