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Tropidophis battersbyi LAURENT, 1949

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Higher TaxaTropidophiidae, Henophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Battersby's Dwarf Boa 
SynonymTropidophis battersbyi LAURENT 1949: 6
Tropidophis battersbyi — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 216
Tropidophis battersbyi — CURCIO et al. 2012
Tropidophis battersbyi — WALLACH et al. 2014: 752 

Type locality: "Equateur"  
TypesHolotype: IRSNB 3701, Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique (Registre des Types No. 2050). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis.—Tropidophis battersbyi is dis- tinguishable from all South American conge- ners by the following combination of charac- ters: (1) up to 200 ventrals (vs. 164–183 in T. paucisquamis and 146–160 in T. taczanows- kyi); (2) 23 dorsals at midbody (vs. dorsals at midbody usually 21 or 23, rarely 25 in T. paucisquamis); (3) vertebral scale row not distinctly enlarged in size relative to remaining dorsals (vs. vertebral row usually enlarged in T. paucisquamis); (4) dorsals smooth (vs. dorsals sometimes feebly keeled in T. paucisquamis and strongly keeled in T. taczanowskyi); (5) interparietals present and well developed (vs. interparietals usually lacking, or small in size when present in T. paucisquamis); (6) parietals fully separated by interparietals (vs. parietals always in contact, even when interparietals are present in T. paucisquamis); (7) 12 maxillary teeth (vs. 15–19 in T. paucisquamis and 16–20 in T. taczanowskyi); (8) body spotted, dorsal spots large, rounded or elliptical, up to four scales in diameter (vs. dorsal spots diameter of approximately two dorsal scales in T. pauci- squamis and T. taczanowskyi); and (9) six spot rows around the body, four on dorsum and two on venter (vs. eight spot rows around the body, six on dorsum and two on venter in T. paucisquamis and T. taczanowskyi) [CURCIO et al. 2012].

Comparisons with other mainland Tropido- phis.—The color pattern of T. battersbyi, with four dorsal rows of large and dark spots (Fig. 2A), is unique among all South Amer- ican congeners. Ventral and subcaudal counts (200 and 41, respectively) are also distinctly high among mainland species, although T. paucisquamis may show compa- rable values for subcaudals. Finally, the original description mentions 12 maxillary teeth, a number that is considerably lower than those of all other mainland Tropidophis (usually > 16) [CURCIO et al. 2012]. 
CommentHabitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018).

Distribution (and characters): T. battersbyi has not been found in South America since it was first named. Laurent (1949) described that T. battersbyi was more similar to the Cuban species T. wrighti from which it differed by having smooth scales versus the keeled scales of the latter. Laurent declared that, despite the geographical distance, T. battersbyi appears to be a simple variation of T. wrighti. However, T. wrighti mostly has smooth scales, except for the dorsalmost rows that can be weakly keeled according to Schwartz and Henderson (1991). T. battersbyi is not only similar to T. wrighti in overall appearance, but it is also similar to T. spiritus and T. morenoi in that it has six rows of large blotches around the body (versus typically four in T. wrighti), some of them transversally fused, 200 ventral scales, 41 subcaudal scales, dorsal scales 21–23–17, interparietal scales present, dark parietal spots (faded but defined in the T. battersbyi specimen), and a postocular stripe. It cannot be ruled out that the only known specimen of T. battersbyi was assigned to an incorrect locality, as very often happens with some old specimens which traveled from the New World to Europe, and that its provenance was very likely to be Cuba (Diaz & Cadiz 2020). 
EtymologyNamed after James Clarence Battersby 1901-1993 [obituary in Herp. Rev. 25: 44 (1994)]. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Curcio, Felipe Franco; Pedro M. Sales Nunes, Antônio Jorge Suzart Argolo, Gabriel Skuk, and Miguel Trefaut Rodrigues 2012. Taxonomy of the South American Dwarf Boas of the Genus Tropidophis Bibron, 1840, With the Description of Two New Species from the Atlantic Forest (Serpentes: Tropidophiidae). Herpetological Monographs 26 (1): 80-121. - get paper here
  • Díaz, L. M. y Cádiz, A. 2020. A new species of Tropidophis (Squamata: Tropidophiidae) and molecular phylogeny of the Cuban radiation of the genus. Novitates Caribaea (16): 1-19; doi: 10.33800/nc.vi16.222 - get paper here
  • Harrington, Sean M; Jordyn M de Haan, Lindsey Shapiro, Sara Ruane 2018. Habits and characteristics of arboreal snakes worldwide: arboreality constrains body size but does not affect lineage diversification. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 125 (1): 61–71 - get paper here
  • Hedges, S.B. 2002. Morphological variation and the definition of species in the snake genus Tropidophis (Serpentes, Tropidophiidae). Bull. nat. Hist. Mus. London (Zool.) 68 (2): 83-90 - get paper here
  • Laurent, R. 1949. Note sur quelques reptiles appartenant à la collection de l'Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique. III. Formes americaines. Bull. Inst. roy. Sci. nat. Belgique, Bruxelles, 25 (9): 1-20 [4]
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • Torres-Carvajal O, Pazmiño-Otamendi G, Salazar-Valenzuela D. 2019. Reptiles of Ecuador: a resource-rich portal, with a dynamic checklist and photographic guides. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13 (1): [General Section]: 209–229 (e178) - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
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