Proahaetulla antiqua MALLIK, ACHYUTHAN, GANESH, PAL, VIJAYAKUMAR & SHANKER, 2019
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|Higher Taxa||Colubridae, Ahaetuliinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)|
|Synonym||Proahaetulla antiqua MALLIK, ACHYUTHAN, GANESH, PAL, VIJAYAKUMAR & SHANKER 2019|
|Distribution||India (Tamil Nadu)|
Type locality: near Agasthiyar peak (8 ̊37’09’’N 77 ̊14’57’’E), Agasthyamalai hills, Kalakad Mundanthurai tiger reserve, Tamil Nadu, India.
|Types||Holotype: CES 259 (given as CESS); adult male; Coll. Saunak Pal and S. P. Vijayakumar, 28th August 2011.|
Paratype: CESS318; adult male; Pandimotta (8 ̊49’35’’N 77 ̊13’02’’E), Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary, Thenmala, Kerala, India; Coll. S.R. Chandramouli and K. P. Dinesh, July 2012.
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis (genus): Morphologically, Proahaetulla is characterized by the presence of horizontally elliptical pupil; concave loreal region, enabling a near-binocular vision; snout produced forward to a fine point; and bright-green dorsum. Proahaetulla gen. nov. differs from Ahaetulla (A. anomala, A. nasuta, A. dispar, A. pulverulenta, A. mycterizans, A. fasciolata, A. fronticincta & A. prasina) in showing the following combination of morphological characters: 12–13 rows of mildly serrated, keeled dorsal scales starting from the nape till the dorsal scales that are situated in the row adjacent to the cloacal plate; strongest keels on the mid vertebral row (7th or 8th row) of scales; keels consecutively weaker in the paravertebral row of scales (dorsal scales smooth in most Ahaetulla, partly keeled near sacral region in A. perroteti); a set of 20 maxillary teeth (12–16 in Ahaetulla) and post-ocular scales 2–3 (2 in Ahaetulla); greenish yellow tongue with black speckles (vs. reddish, purplish or brownish tongue in Ahaetulla spp.).|
Proahaetulla gen. nov. differs from all the known genera in Ahaetuliinae as follows:pupil horizontally elliptical (vs. rounded in Dendrelaphis, Chrysopelea); snout tip pointed (vs. rounded in Dendrelaphis, Chrysopelea); dorsum verdant green (vs. never totally green in Dendrelaphis, Chrysopelea, Dryophiops); dorsal scales keeled (vs. smooth in Dendrelaphis, Dryophiops, Ahaetulla); vertebral scales not enlarged (vs. enlarged in Dendrelaphis); dorsal body scales without apical pits (vs. with apical pits in Dendrelaphis, Chrysopelea, Dryophiops); maxillary teeth 20 (vs. < 16 in Ahaetulla; > 22 in Dendrelaphis, Chrysopelea); mid body scale rows 13–15 (vs. not less than 15 in Dryophiops, Ahaetulla; 17 in Chrysopelea) (Table 3 in Mallik et al. 2019: 10).
Comparisons: Proahaetulla gen. nov. differs from the genera in Ahaetuliinae with the combination of the following characters. Dendrelaphis–rostral lacking a protuberance; pupil circular; loreal region not strongly concave; ventral scales mildly notched; dorsum never completely verdant green; Chrysopelea–rostrum lacking a protuberance; pupil circular; loreal region not strongly concave; dorsum never verdant green; ventrals strongly notched; Dryophiops–dorsum never verdant green; dorsal scales smooth; posterior temporals not greater than two; loreals one on each side (Fig 1B–1F) (please refer key below).
Due to phenetic similarity and sympatric occurrence, the new genus is compared with the genus Ahaetulla at a species-level as follows: dorsal body scales distinctly keeled (vs. smooth in all Ahaetulla spp. except A. perroteti, that has faint keels on sacral rows); three postoculars (Figs 1B, 1C & 4E) on each side of head (vs. 2 in all Ahaetulla spp.); green dorsal colour (vs. always brown in A. pulverulenta, A. fascioalata, frequently brown in A. fronticincta, A. anomala); snout without rostral appendage (vs. with a rostral appendage in A. nasuta, A. pulverulenta, A. anomala); ventrals– 196–207 (vs. < 160 in A. perroteti, A. dispar); subcaudals– 160–165 (vs. < 120 in A. dispar, A. perroteti); loreals– 2 (vs. no loreal in A. nasuta, A. perroteti, A. anomala, A. pulverulenta, vs. 1–2 loreal(s) on each side of head in A. dispar, A. prasina) (S2 Table in Mallik et al. 2019).
|Comment||Type species: Proahaetulla antiqua is the type species of the genus Proahaetulla MALLIK, ACHYUTHAN, GANESH, PAL, VIJAYAKUMAR & SHANKER 2019.|
|Etymology||The specific epithet antiqua is Latin for ‘antique’ or old, a term alluding to the evolutionary age or antiquity of this new taxon.|
The generic epithet Proahaetulla gen. nov. stems from the generic nomen Ahaetulla indicating the early divergence of the lineage from the rest of the Ahaetuliinae members. Gender feminine.
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