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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Fahimi’s Ground Snake 
DistributionIran (Kerman)

Type locality: Iran, Kerman province, 19 km NW of Orzueeyeh City, 1350 m elevation, 28.4582494, 56.36284089  
TypesHolotype. Adult female, ICSTZM.7H.1151 (field number: RAN 2948). ; coll. R. Nazarov, May 2008 (Figs. 3–5 and Fig. S1). The exact geographic coordinates of the type locality are not given, but can be obtained upon request from the authors. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: For the genus and species, Persiophis fahimii is distinguished within the subfamily Colubrinae by a combination of distinct osteological characters, including the occurrence of vestigial teeth on the palatine; a thin, edentulous pterygoid; short and blunt teeth on the maxillae and dentary, occurrence of edentulous parts on the anterior and middle region of the maxillae; a fully fused basioccipital and basisphenoid; the occurrence of a highly oblique quadrate bone attached to the posterior tip of a somewhat elongated supratemporal. The genus and species are also distinguished within the subfamily Colubrinae by a combination of morphological characters, including an elongated snout; occurrence of a rostral scale that is visible from above and wedged between the internasals; a relatively trihedral first supralabial that is slightly bigger than the second and elongated toward the tip of rostral; 15 longitudinal rows of dorsal scales on midbody; and an edentulous pterygoid. (RAJABIZADEH et al. 2020)

Comparisons. The above mentioned anatomical traits are in contrast to those observed in the genus Rhynchocalamus, including a small, thin, down and backward directed premaxilla; a broad, edentulous pterygoid; relatively elongated, posteriorly curved teeth on the maxillae and dentary; a closed suture between basioccipital and basisphenoid; a short and nearly vertical quadrate bone on each side of cranium, and a broad attachment surface for a short supratemporal (Avcı et al., 2015). Also, Persiophis fahimii differs from Rhynchocalamus and Lytorhynchus in having maxillae that anteriorly and medially are edentulous and in between, bear small and vestigial teeth except for the last two, in contrast to relatively elongated, posteriorly curved teeth over most of the maxillar length in Rhynchocalamus and Lytorhynchus (Avcı et al., 2015; Leviton & Anderson, 1970). Persiophis differs from Dasypeltis in having smooth edges on the anterior frontal and posterior nasals (compared to small premaxilla and a serrated anterior free edge of frontals and posterior edges of nasals) (Gans, 1952).

Description of the holotype. Body and tail slender and elongate. Head small, oblong-shaped, slightly distinct from neck; snout elongated. Snout-vent length 380 mm, tail length 115 mm, head length 12.9 mm, head width 7.6 mm, pileus length 9.6 mm, parietal length 4.5/4.8 mm, (right/left), frontal length 3.0 mm, frontal width 2.2 mm, prefrontal suture length 1.2 mm, eye diameter 1.3 mm, distance between nostrils, 2.2 mm, interocular distance 3.2 mm. (RAJABIZADEH et al. 2020)

Head scalation. Tip of rostral scale visible from above and wedged between the internasals. Internasal slightly shorter in length than the prefrontal scale. Width of the frontal scale is smaller than its length, shorter than parietals. Supraoculars are smaller in length and width than the frontals. Parietals elongated, medial suture between scales crooked-shaped giving an asymmetrical appearance. Nasal scale elongated and rectangular, the nostril situated upward, approximately mid length of the nasal. Loreal is small, longer than wide. 8/8 (hereafter values given in right/left order) supralabials , the first supralabial is relatively trihedral, slightly bigger that the second scale and elongated toward the tip of rostral, the fourth and fifth bordering the eye. A single presubocular on each side of the head, 1/2 postoculars; 3/2 anterior and 3/3 posterior temporals. 8/8 infralabials bordering the mouth on each side of the head, the first through fifth bordering the anterior genials. On the underside of the head, the mental small and triangular. Anterior genials small, in contact with each other, obliquely elongated towards the border of mouth, median suture between the anterior genials about the length of mental scale. Posterior genials contacting each other, elongated and larger than the anterior genials, median suture between them slightly more than twice the length of suture between the anterior genials. (RAJABIZADEH et al. 2020)

Body scalation. Dorsal scales smooth, having a single apical pit. Dorsal scales at the anterior body, midbody and posterior body are in 19, 15, and 15 longitudinal rows, respectively. Dorsal scale reduction happens at the level of 22 (DSR 19 to 18), 25 (DSR 18 to 17), 34 (DSR 17 to 16) and 38 (DSR 16 to 15) ventral scales. On the underside of the body, two preventral scales, followed by 206 ventral scales. The anal plate divided, followed by 83 pairs of subcaudal scales, ending to a single terminal scale. (RAJABIZADEH et al. 2020)

Coloration. The dorsal head ground color grayish-white, with a blackish blotch on the posterior prefrontals and anterior frontal, and a parenthesis-shaped blackish blotch on the parietals. Dorsal head scale sutures with irregular feebly blackish dots. On the sides of head, irregular blackish blotches scattered around eye, a blackish stripe running from posterior eye edge along the margin of the parietal on each side of the head. Snout and labial region whitish with irregular blackish dots adjacent to the eye. The underside of the head whitish. Dorsal body and tail ground color grayish white. Three blackish longitudinal stripes on the dorsal and lateral sides of the nape, changing to continuous black blotches on dorsal surfaces of body and tail. Dorsum with nearly parallel blackish dorsal bands, having irregular margins, the width of each band about one and a half of dorsal scale length, separated by a grayish-white interspace of about the length of one scale. Body sides with continuous blackish blotches alternating with dorsal bands. Dorsal blotches fade to scattered blackish spots posteriorly on dorsal surfaces of the tail. The ventral surface of the body whitish. (RAJABIZADEH et al. 2020) 
CommentDistriburtion: see map in RAJABIZADEH et al. 2020: 3 (Fig. 1) 
EtymologyThe species is named after Dr. Hadi Fahimi, a young naturalist and herpetologist who dedicated his life to studying the biodiversity and conservation of reptiles and mammals of Iran. As a young nature lover, Hadi joined the rangers of the Department of Environment in Kerman province for two years and served partly in Khabr National Park where is close to the type locality of Persiophis fahimii. He was a PhD student in IAU, Tehran, studying on the conservation of black bears in southeastern Iran, but sadly passed away in an aircraft crash in Dena Mountain in central Zagros in February 2018.

The genus name is a latinized noun in masculine gender derived from the Greek words ‘‘Persi-’’ (Persís) = Persia (old name of Iran) and ‘‘ophis’’ = serpent. 
  • Kamali, Kamran 2020. A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Iran. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main, Germany ( 574 pp.
  • Rajabizadeh M, Pyron RA, Nazarov R, Poyarkov NA, Adriaens D, Herrel A. 2020. Additions to the phylogeny of colubrine snakes in Southwestern Asia, with description of a new genus and species (Serpentes: Colubridae: Colubrinae). PeerJ 8: e9016 - get paper here
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