| Macrovipera razii |
Oraie, Rastegar-Pouyani, Khosravani, Moradi, Akbari, Sehhatisabet, Shafiei, Stümpel & Joger, 2018
A new species of blunt-nosed viper of the genus Macrovipera is described from the central and southern parts of Iran on the basis of morphological and molecular examination. The mitochondrial Cytb gene was used to investigate phylogenetic relationships amongst the Iranian species of the genus Macrovipera. A dataset with a final sequence length of 1043 nucleotides from 41 specimens from 18 geographically distant localities across Iran was generated. The findings demonstrated that two major clades with strong support can be identified within the genus Macrovipera in Iran. One clade consists of individuals belonging to a new species, which is distributed in the central and southern parts of Iran; the second clade includes two discernible subclades. The first subclade is distributed in western and northwestern Iran, Macrovipera lebetina obtusa, and the second subclade consists of northeastern populations, representing Macrovipera lebetina cernovi. The new species, Macrovipera razii sp. n., differs from its congeners by having higher numbers of ventral scales, elongated anterior chin-shields, and lower numbers of canthal plus intersupraocular scales.
Key words. Squamata, Serpentes, Viperidae, Macrovipera, new species, mitochondrial Cytb, phylogeny, taxonomy, Iran.
|Figure 8. Macrovipera razii sp. n., paratype (adult female ERP 1941) from Pariz, 50 km north of Sirjan, Kerman Province (Photo: N. Moradi).|
|Figure 9. Macrovipera razii sp. n. (ERP 1981) in its natural habitat in the Bamoo National Park, Fars Province, southern Iran (Photo: H. Oraie).|
Macrovipera razii sp. n.
Differential diagnosis: The newly described species differs from M. schweizeri by its higher number of mid-dorsal scales (25 vs. 23), which however overlaps the counts in other M. lebetina subspecies. Macrovipera razii sp. n. differs from M. lebetina by possessing a higher count of ventrals (172–175 vs. 160–170), and by having elongated anterior chin-shields, which are more than three times longer than the posterior ones. In contrast, M. lebetina has square anterior chin-shields, which are less than twice as long as the posterior chin-shields (Fig. 6). Compared to M. lebetina, the new species has a lower number of canthal + intersupraocular scales. More comparisons are provided in Table 4. Interestingly, Macrovipera razii sp. n. and M. lebetina cernovi are similar in both possessing one large supraocular scale, which is absent in M. lebetina obtusa (Fig. 5). Outside Iran, the subspecies M. lebetina euphratica (Schmidt, 1939) differs by having supraoculars that are split up into five scales, making it clearly distinguishable from Macrovipera razii sp. n., which has one large supraocular scale. The latter can be distinguished from Macrovipera lebetina lebetina (Linnaeus, 1758) and Macrovipera lebetina transmediterranea (Nilson & Andrén 1988) by the higher number of ventrals (172– 175 vs. 146–163 and 150–164, respectively), from Macrovipera lebetina turanica (Chernov, 1940) by the latter’s semidivided supraoculars and a dorsal colour pattern that consists of a dark ground colour with a lighter, orange zigzag pattern.
Etymology: The specific epithet is a noun in the genitive case, in honour of Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al-Razi (854–925 CE), a Persian polymath, physician, alchemist, philosopher, and important figure in the history of medicine. Macrovipera is one of the most medically important snakes in Iran, and historically, physicians like him have been involved in snake bite therapy. We propose “Razi’s Viper” as a standard English name.
Distribution: All our specimens of Macrovipera razii sp. n. were collected from localities in central and southern Iran (Table 1, Fig. 1). This species might occur in other provinces of Iran, too, however. It is at present considered to be endemic to Iran.
Hamzeh Oraie, Eskandar Rastegar-Pouyani, Azar Khosravani, Naeim Moradi, Abolfazl Akbari, Mohammad Ebrahim Sehhatisabet, Soheila Shafiei, Nikolaus Stümpel and Ulrich Joger. 2018. Molecular and Morphological Analyses have revealed A New Species of Blunt-nosed Viper of the Genus Macrovipera in Iran. SALAMANDRA. 54(4); 233-248.