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RE: VNM Press: New species of snake unveiled

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Posted by: RichardFHoyer at Mon Nov 2 10:49:14 2009  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by RichardFHoyer ]  
   

CK;
Not split but totally new and overlooked. I suspect that the new species of snake in the genus Contia could be considered as 'cryptic' in the sense that unless one is aware of how to distinguish the Forest Sharp-tailed Snake from the Common Sharp-tailed Snake (Contia tenuis), superficially they appear to be identical. That is the reason that since the late 1800's, the newly described species was overlooked by many herpetologists.

When the sexes are treated separately, there is no overlap between the two species in two traits, relative tail length and in number of caudals. Although there is overlap in the number of ventrals between the two species, there is a very significant difference between the two species in that character as well. All other differences are more subtle. In addition, DNA testing demonstrated considerable divergence between the two species.

Our paper will report on a third group (subspecies?) of Sharp-tailed Snake that occurs in the southern Sierra Nevada Mts. of Tulare County.

As you are aware, the use of SVL has been a` time honored convention in herpetology. I have long held the view that such a convention is flawed in that for the most part, many herpetologists have ignored the tails of snakes as if the appendage was immaterial. I would go further by stating that it likely the Forest Sharp-tailed Snake was overlooked for so long due to the SVL convention.

Richard F. Hoyer


   

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