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Xylophis deepaki NARAYANAN, MOHAPATRA, BALAN, DAS & GOWER, 2021

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Higher TaxaPareidae (Xylophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Deepak’s wood snake 
SynonymXylophis deepaki NARAYANAN, MOHAPATRA, BALAN, DAS & GOWER 2021
Xylophis perroteti – RAJENDRAN 1985
Xylophis captaini – GOWER and Winkler, 2007 [in part]
Xylophis captaini – GANESH 2010
Xylophis captaini – GANESH et al. 2012
Xylophis captaini – BHUPATHY et al. 2016 [in part] 
DistributionIndia (Tamil Nadu)

Type locality: India, Tamil Nadu: close to Marthandam, 8° 20.610’N, 77° 13.092’E, 56 m a.s.l., plantation, see map in Fig. 2.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: ZSI-CZRC-V-7218, male, spirit preserved, with hemipenis in a separate vial, (Figs 3, 4, 5A), 23 November 2016, Surya Narayanan and Pratyush P. Mohapatra leg. Paratypes: ZSI-SRC-VRS-287, male, collection details as for holotype, (Figs 6 A–D, 5B); BNHS 3383: male, collector unknown, from Potugani junction, Kanya- kumari Dist., Tamil Nadu (=Pathugani) (8°28.672’N, 77°13.627’E, 240 m a.s.l), collection date unknown, (see Gower and Winkler 2007: 316). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. The new species is assigned to the genus Xylophis based on the anterior-most (three) pairs of infralabial shields reduced to narrow strips, together much smaller than large pair of anterior chin (genial) shields. Xylophis deepaki sp. nov. is small (maximum known total length 199 mm), with 15 dorsal scale rows at midbody, 117–125 ventrals (n=6), 13–23 subcaudals (n=6), internasal length almost equal to the prefrontal length, a thick and ventrally near-complete off-white collar, and mostly smooth hemipenial body and lobes.
Xylophis deepaki sp. nov. differs from X. perroteti (including its putative synonym X. microcephalum, see Deepak et al. 2020) and X. mosaicus in having 15 rather than 13 dorsal scale rows along most of the body. Additionally, the new species has relatively short prefrontals and broad, squarish internasals (vs. long prefrontals and internasals), and a distinct off-white collar band (vs. absent). The hemipenis of X. deepaki is smooth with few, ill-defined flounces towards the distal end of the lobes (vs. well-defined longitudinal flounces in X. perroteti) and differs from that of X. mosaicus in having a short, smooth body and lobes (vs. elongated body, ill-defined ‘calyces’ and scattered fleshy papillae on the distal part of the body and the lobes).
The new species differs from X. stenorhynchus (and its putative synonym X. indicus, see Gower and Winkler 2007) in having generally fewer ventrals, 117–125 (vs. 120–135), internasals almost as long as the prefrontals along the midline (vs. substantially shorter than prefrontals), the length of first and second infralabialstogether shorter than the third (vs. about as long as the third infralabial), and a wide off-white collar extending to the ventral surface (vs. narrow and dorsally restricted collar band).
Xylophis deepaki sp. nov. differs from its superficially most-similar congener and closest relative, X. captaini, in having more ventral scales, 117–125 (vs. 102–113), a wide off-white collar band that extends onto the ventral surface (vs. narrow and dorsally restricted collar band), lacking a dark lateroventral line on the third dorsal scale row on each side (vs. present in X. captaini) and in having a largely smooth hemipenis with a protrusion on the hemipenial body (vs. proximal half of each lobe having about eight, approximately transverse fleshy flounces and lacking a protrusion on the body). The new species differs from congeners by an uncorrected pairwise DNA-sequence difference of > 4% in mitochondrial 16S. 
CommentFor further details and references see Narayanan et al. (not provided upon request) 
EtymologyThis species is named in honour of the Indian herpetologist Dr Deepak Veerappan, in recognition of his substantial, 21st Century contributions to herpetology, including work on Xylophis systematics. 
References
  • Narayanan, S., Mohapatra, P. P., Balan, A., Das, S., & Gower, D. J. 2021. A new species of Xylophis Beddome, 1878 (Serpentes: Pareidae) from the southern Western Ghats of India. Vertebrate Zoology, 71: 219 - get paper here
 
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