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Psammophylax kellyi CONRADIE, KEATES & EDWARDS, 2019

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Higher TaxaPsammophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Tanzanian Grass Snake, Tanzanian Skaapsteker 
SynonymPsammophylax kellyi CONRADIE, KEATES & EDWARDS in KEATES et al. 2019
Psammophylax multisquamis — BOULENGER 1896: 140 (part)
Psammophylax multisquamis — LOVERIDGE 1923: 882
Psammophylax multisquamis — LOVERIDGE 1932: 84 (Mpwapwa paratypes)
Psammophylax multisquamis — BROADLEY 1977: 30
Psammophylax multisquamis — SPAWLS et al. 2018
Psammophylax multisquamis — SPAWLS 2002 
DistributionN Tanzania (Mount Meru)

Type locality: Arusha Region near Oldonyo Sambu, on the foothills of Mount Meru (3.17°S; 36.68°E, ~1,850 m a.s.l.), northern Tanzania.  
TypesHolotype: PEM R23926 (CMRK 401, adult female) collected 17 July 2003. Collected by Christopher R. Kelly.
Paratypes (six specimens): (a) PEM R23924 (CMRK 296) col‐ lected in 2002 by staff of Meserani Snake Park, Arusha Region; PEM R23925 (CMRK 328) (juvenile) collected 26 April 2003, locality as holotype; PEM R23927 (CMRK 402) collected 18 July 2003, local‐ ity as holotype; PEM R23930 (CMRK 333) collected 1 May 2003, near Oldonyo Sambu (3.15°S; 36.69°E, ~1,750 m a.s.l.) PEM R23928 (CMRK 404) collected 20 July 2003, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, near Ngorongoro town (3.23° S; 35.41° E, ~2,358 m a.s.l.); PEM R23929 (CMRK 405) collected 21 July 2003, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Ngorongoro airstrip (3.22°S; 35.48°E, ~2,365 m a.s.l.). All collected by Christopher R. Kelly, except PEM R23924. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Snout rounded (pointed in P. tritaeniatus), supralabials with dark (usually rust‐colored) spots (immaculate in P. tritaeniatus), no spots on the nape, sometimes forming longitudinal lines (present in P. rhombeatus and P. ocellatus), rostral broader than deep, never separating the internasals (in P. rhombeatus the rostral is usually as deep as wide and sometimes separating internasals), tail length/ total length ratio less than 21% (larger than 21% in P. rhombeatus), usually two anterior temporals with more than 163 subcaudals (usually one anterior temporal in P. variabilis with fewer than 163 subcaudals), ventrum light gray or white (dark gray in P. variabilis).
Apparently indistinguishable from southern Kenya P. multisquamis (Figure 1g,h) in dorsal coloration—both populations exhibit the pattern illustrated in (Broadley (1977: fig 7a). Distinguished from Ethiopian P. multisquamis (Figure 1f), in which the vertebral line is often poorly defined or absent. Scalation and morphometrics (traditional and 2D morphology) appear to be unreliable diagnostic tools because of considerable overlap between Psammophylax species (Table 3). Psammophylax kellyi sp. nov. (Tanzania) and P. multisquamis (Kenya/Ethiopia) are allopatric, while the Ngorongoro population of P. kellyi sp. nov. is apparently sympatric with P. variabilis (see PEM R23970/CMRK 403). Average sequence divergence between P. kellyi sp. nov. and other Psammophylax species was 8.52 ± 1.43% and 8.23 ± 0.75% for cyt b and ND4, respectively. 
CommentDiet: Three young mice were recorded in the stomach of the Tindi specimen (Bogert, 1940), and the Arusha specimen had an unidentified skink in its stomach (Loveridge, 1923). One of the paratypes (PEM R23925; CMRK 328) regurgitated the remains of a chameleon after being captured (Keates et al. 2019). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is a patronym in honor of Christopher M. R. Kelly for his considerable contribution to the systematics of the snake family Lamprophiidae. 
  • Bogert,C.M. 1940. Herpetological results of the Vernay Angola Expedition. I. Snakes, including an arrangement of the African Colubridae. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 77: 1-107
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp. - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. 1977. A revision of the African Snakes of the Genus Psammophylax Fitzinger (Colubridae). Occ. Pap. natl. Mus. Rhod. 1976 B6 (1): 1-44.
  • Keates, C, Conradie, W, Greenbaum, E, Edwards, S. 2019. Snake in the grass: Genetic structuring of the widespread African grass snake (Psammophylax Fitzinger 1843), with the description of a new genus and a new species. J Zool Syst Evol Res. 57: 1039– 1066 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1932. New opisthoglyphous snakes of the genera Crotaphopeltis and Trimerorhinus from Angola and Kenya Colony. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 45: 83-86 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A., 1923. Notes on East African Snakes, collected 1918– 1923. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 93: 871–897
  • Spawls, S.; Howell, K.; Drewes, R.C. & Ashe, J. 2002. A field guide to the reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, 543 pp. [reviews in HR 34: 396 and Afr. J. Herp. 51; 147] - get paper here
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
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