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Rhinophis goweri AENGALS & GANESH, 2013

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Higher TaxaUropeltidae, Henophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymRhinophis goweri AENGALS & GANESH 2013 
DistributionS India (Bodamalai hills, Tamil Nadu)

Type locality: Noolathu Kombai, Bodamalai hills (11°28’ N 78°10’ E; ca. 980 m elevation) situated between Namakkal and Salem districts in Tamil Nadu state, India.  
Reproductionviviparous (not imputed, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: ZSI = Zoological Survey of India, Chennai ZSI GSRCGVRS 256; an adult female, collected by K. Ilango, R. Aengals and party on 2G10G2010. 
DiagnosisR. goweri differs from the 15 Indian and Sri Lankan congeners by having the following combination of characters: midbody scale rows 17 (vs. 15 in R. sanguineus); caudal disc as long as or longer than shielded part of head (vs. shorter in R. blythi, R. erangaviraji, R. drummondhayi); rostral not more than half as long as shielded part of head (vs. more in R. punctatus, R. porrectus, R. oxyrhynchus, R. dorsimaculatus); venter and outermost scalerows without large spots (vs. venter with large zig-zag spots in R. fergusonianus; outermost scalerows with large spots in R. homoplepis); ventral scales 215 (vs. < 146 in R. travancoricus; 170 in R. tricoloratus; < 182 in R. philippinus); dorsum uniform and unpatterned (vs. with zig-zag markings in R. zigzag; longitudinal stripes in R. lineatus).

Diagnosis. The new species is diagnosed by the fol- lowing combination of characters: midbody scale rows 17; convex caudal shield as long as or longer than shielded part of head; rostral not more than half as long as shielded part of head, separating prefrontals for more than half their length; ventrals 215; venter and outermost scale rows without large spots; uniform dark grayish brown above and off-white heavily powdered with brown below; tail distinctly reddish orange below; dorsum uni- form and unpatterned. See comparisons with all conge- ners below for differential diagnosis. 
EtymologyThe species name in the genitive singular case is a patronym honoring Dr. David Gower of the Natural History Museum, London, for his outstanding studies on shieldtail snakes. 
  • Aengals, R.; S. R. Ganesh 2013. Rhinophis goweri — A New Species of Shieldtail Snake from the Southern Eastern Ghats, India. Russ. J. Herpetol. 20 (1): 61-65 - get paper here
  • Ganesh, S. R.; M. Arumugam 2016. Species Richness of Montane Herpetofauna of Southern Eastern Ghats, India: A Historical Resume and a Descriptive Checklist. Russ. J. Herpetol. 23 (1): 7-24 - get paper here
  • Pyron R. A., Ganesh S. R., Sayyed A., Sharma V., Wallach V. & Somaweera R. 2016. A catalogue and systematic overview of the shield-tailed snakes (Serpentes: Uropeltidae). [type catalogue] Zoosystema 38 (4): 453-506 - get paper here
  • Zimin, A., Zimin, S. V., Shine, R., Avila, L., Bauer, A., Böhm, M., Brown, R., Barki, G., de Oliveira Caetano, G. H., Castro Herrera, F., Chapple, D. G., Chirio, L., Colli, G. R., Doan, T. M., Glaw, F., Grismer, L. L., Itescu, Y., Kraus, F., LeBreton 2022. A global analysis of viviparity in squamates highlights its prevalence in cold climates. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 00, 1–16 - get paper here
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