Morphology of Vipera palaestinae: Intraspecific Variability and Sexual Dimorphism

Stanislav Volynchik


I present new data on intraspecific variations in external morphology and sexual dimorphism in different characteristics of Vipers, Vipera palaestinae in Israel. Corporal proportions and scalation pattern of museum specimens of this snake, the most common viperid species in Israel, were recorded and analyzed. Strong sexual dimorphism was found in tail measurements (its relative length, and number of subcaudal scales), head proportions and in the number of ventral scales. The sexual differences were evident in the head scalation – females have significantly more supralabial and sublabial scales; males, in turn exceed females in circumorbital scale counts. There is no sexual size dimorphism (SSD) in average body weight, snout-vent and total length. The sexes display a similar allometry between SVL/head and SVL/tail length; between tail length and the number of subcaudal scales (weak, but significant relationship). There is no correlation between SVL and the number of ventral or dorsal scales. The morphological plasticity caused by reproduction requirements is well registered and was evident in relating to tail measurements and body scalation, although the possible causes and selective forces of the pholidosis intersexual distinctions can be cleared up through future ecological studies.


Vipera palaestinae; snakes; scalation; intraspecific variability; sexual dimorphism; Viperidae

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