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Philothamnus belli (GÜNTHER, 1866)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymHerpetaethiops Bellii GÜNTHER 1866: 27
Philothamnus belli — TRAPE & BALDÉ 2014 
DistributionSierra Leone, Guinea (Conakry), Liberia

Type locality: Sierra Leone.  
TypesType: BMNH, female 
DiagnosisOriginal description: “Herpetaethiops Bellii Pl. VII fig. B. Head rather narrow, distinct from neck. Rostral shield scarcely broader than high, reaching the upper surface of the snout; anterior frontals half as large as the posterior, about as long as broad. Vertical bell-shaped, as large as a superciliary, and not much shorter than the occipitals, which are short and rounded behind. Loreal quadrangular, much longer than deep; one preocular, nearly reaching the vertical; two postoculars; nine upper labials, the fourth, fifth and sixth of which enter the orbit. Temporals 2+2, the two anterior being in contact with the postoculars. Scales much imbricate. Ventrals 159; anal entire; subcaudals 85.

Coloration: Deep black above and below; only the lower side of the head and the thirty anterior ventral shields are whitish.

We have received one example only, in a collection made by Lieut. Bell at Sierra Leone; it is 33 inches long, the tail measuring 9 inches.” (Günther 1866: 64)

Comparisons (scalation): P. belli: V = 146–(mean 148.7)–153 (n = 4), SC = 89–(91.7)–94 (n = 3); P. heterodermus: V = 146–(148.2)–151 (n = 17), SC = 77–(85.9)–93 (n = 18) and females: P. belli: V = 149–(154.7)–161 (n = 13), SC = 74–(78.7)–82 (n = 12); P. heterodermus: V = 146–(148.3)–151 (n = 22), SC = 73–(79.8)–86 (n = 14) (Trape & Baldé 2014).
CommentSynonymy: P. belli was synonymized with Philothamnus heterodermus by LOVERIDGE 1958: 64 and remained a synonym until TRAPE & BALDÉ 2014 revalidated it. 
EtymologyDedicated to Lieut. Bell 
  • Günther,A. 1866. Fifth account of new species of snakes in the collection of the British Museum. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (3) 18: 24-29 - get paper here
  • Loveridge,A. 1958. Revision of five african snake genera. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 119: 1-198 (141) - get paper here
  • TRAPE, JEAN-FRANÇOIS & CELLOU BALDÉ 2014. A checklist of the snake fauna of Guinea, with taxonomic changes in the genera Philothamnus and Dipsadoboa (Colubridae) and a comparison with the snake fauna of some other West African countries. Zootaxa 3900 (3): 301–338 - get paper here
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