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Reptile haven of Sri Lanka yields up new species of rough-sided snake

11 / 05 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

COLOMBO –From the misty Knuckles Hills that form a part of Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands, a new snake species has been added to the island’s already rich catalog of unique reptiles. De Silva’s rough-sided snake (Aspidura desilvai) is described in a new paper published in Zootaxa, making it the ninth species in the genus Aspidura, endemic to Sri Lanka. The new species bears a strong resemblance to A. trachyprocta and A. ravanai, a species described in 2017, but is easily distinguishable by its color pattern, scales in the ischiadic region, and morphometric characteristics, the paper says. The new species has so far been recorded only in the Knuckles Massif in the central district of Matale, known for its rich biodiversity and part of a UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site. The researchers carried out a detailed comparison between the new species and A. ravanai and A. trachyprotoca, and all other known Aspidura species, before identifying it as a distinct species. “They are only found in this single habitat, and are readily distinguished from their coastal scale count and the color pattern,” L.J. Mendis Wickramasinghe, lead author of the new paper and founder of the Herpetological Foundation of Sri Lanka, told Mongabay. The snake bears the color of latosolic soil or soil found in tropical rainforests. A. rachyprocta is distributed throughout the central highlands except the Knuckles Massif, while A. ravanai is only found in the higher altitudes of Adam’s Peak of the Central Hills. The new species, in contrast, is observed from an…

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