Friday, December 30, 2016

Four new vipers were described in 2016

Bale Mountains Adder, Bitis harenna Gower et al. 2016
Bale Mountains Adder, Bitis harenna

Bale Mountains Adder is similar in scalation to Bitis parviocula. It is known from the holotype and one photograph taken of a specimen that was not collected. It inhabits the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia near the town of Dodola, which is on the main route between the Rift Valley and the chief settlements of the Bale Mountains region. Dodola lies on a heavily farmed plateau, and there is very little tree cover in the immediate vicinity of the town. The holotype is 665 mm long.

Talamancan palm-pitviper, Bothriechis nubestris Doan et al. 2016

The new species is a small to medium sized pitviper, 61 cm on average.It inhabits a small area in the northern Talamancan Cordillera of Costa Rica. The pit viper is a striking green-and-black, a coloration it shares with its close relative, the black-speckled palm-pitviper (Bothriechis nigroviridis). The two species look so similar that the Talamancan palm-pitviper
Talamancan palm-pitviperBothriechis nubestris 
went unrecognized for more than a century. 


Ilha dos Franceses LanceheadBothrops sazimai Barbo et al. 2016
This is a new insular species of  Bothrops from Ilha dos Franceses, a small island off the coast of Espírito Santo State, southeastern Brazil. The new species differs from mainland populations of B. jararaca in its small size, relative longer tail, relative smaller head length, and relative larger eyes. Like other island Bothrops,  Bothrops sazimai reaches high population densities, is nocturnal, semi- arboreal, and feeding on small lizards and centipedes. Due its unique and restricted area of occurrence, declining quality of habitat, and constant use of the island for tourism, the new species may be considered as critically endangered.
Ilha dos Franceses LanceheadBothrops sazimai


Walser Viper, Vipera walser Ghielmi et al. 2016 
Vipera walser is a new viper from the northwestern Italian Alps. Despite its overall morphological resemblance with Vipera berus, the new species is genetically distinct  from both V. berus and other vipers occurring in western Europe. Morphologically, the new species appear to be more similar to V. berus than to its closest genetic relatives occurring in the Caucasus The extant population shows a very low genetic variability based upon mitochondrial markers, suggesting that the taxon has suffered a serious population reduction or bottleneck in the past. The species is extremely range-restricted (inhabiting less than 500 km2) and occurs at in two disjunct sites within the high rainfall valleys of the Alps
Walser Viper, Vipera walser 
north of Biella. This new species should be classified as globally ‘endangered’ due to its small and fragmented range, and an inferred population decline. The near-future threats to the species are habitat changes associated with reduced grazing, along with human persecution, and collecting.


Citations

Barbo FE, Gasparini JL, Almeida AP, Zaher H, Grazziotin FG, Gusmão RB, Ferrarini JM, Sawaya RJ. 2016. Another new and threatened species of lancehead genus Bothrops (Serpentes, Viperidae) from Ilha dos Franceses, Southeastern Brazil. Zootaxa. 4097(4):511-29.

Doan TM, Mason AJ, Castoe TA, Sasa M, Parkinson CL. 2016. A cryptic palm-pitviper species (Squamata: Viperidae: Bothriechis) from the Costa Rican highlands, with notes on the variation within B. nigroviridis. Zootaxa.  4138(2):271-90.

Ghielmi S, Menegon M, Marsden SJ, Laddaga L, Ursenbacher S. 2016. A new vertebrate for Europe: the discovery of a range‐restricted relict viper in the western Italian Alps. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 54(3):161-73.

Gower DJ, Wade EO, Spawls S, Bohme W, Buechley ER, Sykes D, Colston TJ. 2016. A new large species of Bitis Gray, 1842 (Serpentes: Viperidae) from the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia. Zootaxa. 4093(1):41-63.

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