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Psammophis lineatus (DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL, 1854)

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Higher TaxaPsammophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Gray Grass Snake, Lined Olympic Snake, Striped Swamp Snake
G: Gestreifte Sumpfschlange 
SynonymDryophylax lineatus DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 1124
Dromophis lineatus BOULENGER 1895: 33
Psammophis sibilans tumbensis SCHENKEL 1901
Psammophis brevirostris temporalis WERNER 1902
Dromophis lineatus — SCHMIDT 1923: 110
Dromophis lineatus — MONARD 1940
Dromophis lineatus — MENZIES 1966
Dromophis lineatus — AUERBACH 1987: 165
Dromophis lineatus — BROADLEY 1998
Dromophis lineatus — TRAPE & MANÉ 2000
Dromophis lineatus — BROADLEY & COTTERILL 2004
Psammophis lineatus — KELLY et al. 2008
Dromophis lineatus — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 544
Dromophis lineatus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 240
Psammophis lineatus — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 433
Dromophis lineatus — MARQUES et al. 2018 
DistributionW Zimbabwe (Caprivi Strip), Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Congo (Brazzaville), Central African Republic, Sudan (Jumhūriyyat), Republic of South Sudan (RSS), Senegal, S Mali, Guinea (Conakry), Guinea-Bissau, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, W Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Angola, Uganda, Cameroon, Kenya [HR 12: 65], Botswana, Tanzania, Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, N Malawi, Uganda, Zambia

Type locality: White Nile, Sudan (Jumhūriyyat), Republic of South Sudan (RSS).  
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesSyntypes: MNHN-RA 7643 and MNHN-RA 7644, one specimen 910 mm (d'Arnaud)
Holotype: NMBA 1980 [tumbensis] 
DiagnosisDromophis lineatus can be distinguished from most Psammophis spp. in two scale characters: (a) ventral counts are low: 139-158, cf. most Psammophis spp. are 156-210, but usually above 170 in species that are sympatric with D. lineatus; (b) a single anterior temporal scale, which is a rare condition in Psammophis. This was the principal character that Werner (1902) used for defining P s. temporalis when he incorrectly attributed D. lineatus to Psammophis (Hughes 2004).

Although Boulenger (1915, 1919) used the presence of a single anterior temporal scale to distinguish Dromophis from Psammophis with, "usually two superposed anterior temporals", it is not unknown for D. lineatus to have two anterior temporal scales e.g., as Loveridge (1933b:254) reported for a snake (MCZ 30326) from Nyamkolo, Zambia. And whilst Psammophis spp. usually have two or more anterior temporals, it was the presence of a single scale in the type specimen of Psammophis leucogaster Spawls (1981) which mislead Brandstatter (1995:370) into regarding this as a misidentified D. lineatus: it is in fact referable to P sudanensis (Hughes 1999:67, Hughes 2004).

D. lineatus can be distinguished from any species of Psammophis at a glance because of several features of their colour pattern: (a) transverse black dashes on the lateral part of the ventral scales, especially in the neck region: such transverse markings are not always present and may occasionally be present in Psammophis spp. but are rare in other species; these were described as 'black transverse commas' by Schenkel (1901) when describing P s. tumbensis and the distinction has been referred to by Loveridge (1933b:254, 1956:48) and Sweeney (1961: 128, Fig. 27) and well illustrated by Pitman (1937:145, Plate J; 1974:142. Plate J);
b) colour [in alcohol] is green in contrast to the brown, khaki or olive of Psammophis spp.; an exception to this is found in the recently described Psammophis zambiensis (Hughes & Wade 2002); (c) light vertical marking on preocular and postocular: although this may also occur in Psammophis, it is not a consistent feature (Fig 2 in Hughes 2004);
d) narrow, light, transverse bars crossing the temporal region, less often the top of the head, and immediately post-parietal on the nape: when such bars occur in Psammophis spp. they are usually wider and not as straight, but note the similarity to P angolensis, as remarked upon by Brandstatter (1996:108) and P zambiensis (Fig. 2 in Hughes 2004). 
CommentFound in close association with marshlands and swamps. 
EtymologyNamed after Latin “linea”, meaning stripe or line. 
References
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