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Toxicodryas adamanteus GREENBAUM, ALLEN, VAUGHAN, PAUWELS, WALLACH, KUSAMBA, MUNINGA, ARIS-TOTE, MALI, BADJEDJEA, PENNER, RÖDEL, RIVERA, STERKHOVA, JOHNSON, TAPONDJOU & BROWN, 2021

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymToxicodryas adamanteus GREENBAUM, ALLEN, VAUGHAN, PAUWELS, WALLACH, KUSAMBA, MUNINGA, ARIS-TOTE, MALI, BADJEDJEA, PENNER, RÖDEL, RIVERA, STERKHOVA, JOHNSON, TAPONDJOU & BROWN 2021 
DistributionDemocratic Republic of Congo (Katanga): Equateur Province

Type locality: Npenda village, NE of Lake Tumba (00.7465° S, 18.2243° E, 311 m), Equateur Province, DRC  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. UTEP 22204 (field no. ELI 2213; Figs. 8, 12–13), adult male, collected by local Twa people and brought to Eli Greenbaum, Chifundera Kusamba, Wandege M. Muninga, and Mwenebatu M. Aristote on 8 July 2013.
Paratopotype. UTEP 22203 (field no. ELI 2212) adult female with same collection details as the holotype.
Paratype. RBINS 2699 (formerly RBINS 9127) (field no. Paul Leloup #26), adult female from Région Tsha- bondo (2.690861° S, 27.341972° E), South Kivu Province, DRC, collected by Paul Leloup on 11 October 1958. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A species of Toxicodryas restricted to West, Central and East Africa, east of the Niger Delta, defined by the following combination of characters: maximum SVL < 1 meter (vs. maximum SVL > 1 meter in T. blandingii and T. vexator sp. nov.), DSRN 18–23 (vs. 23–25 in T. blandingii and 23–29 in T. vexator sp. nov.), DSRM 18–21 (vs. 21–25 in T. blandingii and T. vexator sp. nov.); cloacal plate undivided (vs. usually divided in T. blandingii, and divided or undivided in T. vexator sp. nov.); both sexes brown to pink with darker cross-bars that often enclose a whitish spot, and the dorsum and venter sprinkled with fine dark brown or black spots (vs. adult males glossy or velvety black with a yellow venter, and adult females light brown, gray, or yellowish-brown with light-brown or cream cross-bars on the flanks, with yellowish-brown venters in T. blandingii and T. vexator sp. nov.); hemipenis relatively long with long spines mid-way along the shaft that decrease in size towards the apex and base, with a domed apex (vs. hemipenis relatively short and massive [i.e., broad], proximal third covered with spines, distal two-thirds dimpled with a flattened apex in T. blandingii and T. vexator sp. nov.) (GREENBAUM et al. 2021).

Coloration (in life) of the holotype. Silvery gray-brown over the entire length of the dorsum including the head, with similarly colored but darker diamonds occurring laterally over the full length of the neck, body, and tail. These diamonds are elongated vertically, have pale gray centers, and often have black spots at the top and bottom corners. Between each diamond on the body and neck is a more vaguely defined, pale gray diamond or stripe. The lateral and antero-dorsal sides of the head are speckled, as is the ventral side of the head, neck, body, and tail. The venter is otherwise white, with the speckles forming two pale stripes running down either side of the ventrals and subcaudals. The base of the tongue is orangish red, and the forked tip is silvery white with black edging (GREENBAUM et al. 2021).

Variation. Morphometric variation of Toxicodryas adamanteus sp. nov. is shown in Table 2. We observed extensive temporal scale variation, including 1 + 1, 1 + 2, 2 + 2 (most commonly), 2 + 3, 2 + 5, 3 + 2, 3 + 3, and 4 + 3. Chabanaud (1917c) described a male from Gabon with supralabials 3–6 contacting the eye, and this specimen seems to be the size record at 1,225 mm total length (995 mm SVL, 230 mm tail length). Schmidt (1923) listed ventral counts of 251–269 in snakes from DRC, and noticed one individual that had a preocular fused to the supraocular on one side, and in two individuals, the loreal was fused to the lower portion of the preocular and thus contacted the eye. Laurent (1956) noticed that snakes from DRC (i.e., T. adamanteus sp. nov.) had more subcaudals than snakes from West Africa (i.e., T. pulverulenta). Skinner (1973) noted ventral scale counts range from 240–269, subcaudal scale counts range from 105–126 (identical to Pitman 1974), and the maximum size is about 2 meters, substantially larger than all other published records, and thus, highly doubtful. De Witte (1975) provided data for ventral scale counts of DRC snakes ranging from 235–242 (males) and 239–249 (females), and subcaudal counts of 112–120 (both sexes). Spawls & Branch (2020) listed the maximum size as “about 1.25 m” but no specific locality or record was provided. Although most of our examined specimens and literature records noted the 3rd to 5th supralabial in contact with the eye, some individuals have the 4th to 6th supralabial in contact with the eye (e.g., Loveridge 1937) and one specimen from Gabon (CAS 258155) had only the 4th and 5th supralabial in contact with the eye. In snakes from Uganda, Pitman (1974) reported ventral scale counts of 240–269 and subcaudal counts of 105–126 (not distinguished by sex). In de Witte’s (1975) study of snakes from Virunga National Park in eastern DRC, he noted ventrals range from 235–242 in males and 239–249 in females; subcaudals ranged from 112–120 in both sexes. Rasmussen (1997b:106) described individuals with 3 or 4 postoculars, 7–9 supralabials, 9–13 infralabials, 236–278 ventrals, and 96–132 subcaudals (sometimes undivided). In general, he noted this species has sloping and smooth scales with apical pits, and the vertebral row is more or less enlarged.
Bogert (1940:fig. 8) illustrated the maxillary teeth of a specimen (AMNH 50590) from former French Cameroon, noting “five specimens examined show variation from eleven to thirteen anterior subequal teeth followed after a very short diastema by two larger grooved fangs and a smaller fang, the total number of teeth being fourteen to eighteen.” Because only two of his examined specimens originated from former French Cameroon, at least three of these specimens are from Liberia, which are attributable to T. pulverulenta.
Schmidt (1923:103) quoted field notes of Herbert Lang for DRC snakes as “coloration, in life, reddish brown above, head darker brown. Irregular dark gray lateral bars, wider in the middle, extend from the vertebral line to the venter, tipped above and below with black. A cream-colored central spot in the broad portion of each lateral bar. Faint narrow grayish crossbars between the wider ones, disappearing posteriorly. The wider crossbars are usually alternate, sometimes confluent on the back. Venter pinkish gray, heavily dotted with brown which forms two lines at the inner edges of the ventral edges of the ventral angle. These lines are more distinct beneath the tail.” Hellmich (1957b) described several individuals from Angola with a reddish brown to reddish blue-gray dorsum, with varying degrees of contrasting rhombic patterns and spots. Pitman (1974) provided a similar description for specimens from Uganda, noting they range from pinkish-brown to reddish-brown. Hedges (1983:21) described Kenyan specimens as, “a rather pretty pattern of coffee coloured diamond shaped markings on a mushroom pink body.” Rasmussen (1997b) described coloration in this species (presumably based on examined specimens from Nigeria and Cameroon) as reddish brown on the dorsum of the body; dorsum of the head darker brown; irregular, dark gray, diamond-shaped spots on the flanks that are widest at mid-body; spots edged in black on superior and inferior edges with a cream spot in the center that sometimes fuse together in the midline; faint grayish transverse bands between spots that fade and disappear posteriorly; venter pinkish-gray, with dense brown spots that form a line just inside and parallel to the keeled ventrals, most salient on the tail. Pauwels et al. (2019b) noted a specimen from Gabon with an orange tongue in life. Spawls & Branch (2020:239) noted the dorsal color can range from pinkish to brown, red-brown or pinky gray with “darker” cross-bars that enclose a “pale” spot. The dorsum and venter are “finely dusted” with brown or black specks, whereas the venter is pale pink with “dashed dark lines” on each side of the ventrals. Contrary to Pauwels et al. (2019b), they noted the tongue is pink with a white tip. Based on our photographs of DRC snakes (e.g., Fig. 12G), the tongue is orangish red, and the forked tip is silvery white with black edging, which is consistent with the coloration of the holotype in life (EG pers. obs.). An unsexed individual from Banalia, DRC (Fig. 12F) is unique in having a golden yellow mid-dorsal stripe (GREENBAUM et al. 2021). 
CommentFor further references see Greenbaum et al. 2021 (not provided upon request). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet adamanteus is a Latin adjective referring to the diamond-shaped marks on the flanks and dorsum of this species. 
References
  • Greenbaum, E., Allen, K. E., Vaughan, E. R., Pauwels, O. S., Wallach, V. A. N., Kusamba, C., ... & Brown, R. M. 2021. Night stalkers from above: A monograph of Toxicodryas tree snakes (Squamata: Colubridae) with descriptions of two new cryptic species from Central Africa. Zootaxa, 4965 (1): 1-44 - get paper here
 
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