A new species of the Southeast Asian genus Opisthotropis (Serpentes: Colubridae: Natricinae) from western Hunan, China

Jin-Long Ren1,2,3, Kai Wang4, Ke Jiang1,2, Peng Guo5, Jia-Tang Li1,2,*

1 CAS Key Laboratory of Mountain Ecological Restoration and Bioresource Utilization & Ecological Restoration and Biodiversity Conservation Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province, Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu Sichuan 610041, China

2 Southeast Asia Biodiversity Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yezin Nay Pyi Taw 05282, Myanmar

3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China

4 Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History & Department of Biology, University of Oklahoma, Norman Oklahoma 73019, USA

5 College of Life Sciences and Food Engineering, Yibin University, Yibin Sichuan 644007, China

PubYear: 2017

Volume: 38(5)


Page number: 251-263

Abstract: A new species of natricine snake of the Southeast Asian genus Opisthotropis Günther, 1872 is described from western Hunan Province of China based on both mitochondrial DNA and morphological data. The new species is morphologically most similar and genetically most closely related to O. cheni Zhao, 1999 and O. latouchii (Boulenger, 1899), but possesses considerable genetic divergence (pdistance 5.1%–16.7%) and can be differentiated from all other congeners by a combination of the following morphological characters: (1) body size large (total length 514–586 mm) and strongly built; (2) dorsal scale rows 17 throughout, feebly keeled anteriorly and moderately keeled posteriorly; (3) ventral scales 147–152, subcaudal scales 54–62; (4) preocular absent, loreal elongated and touching orbit; (5) supralabials 8–9, fifth and sixth entering obit; (6) anterior temporals short, length 1.74–2.04 times longer than width; (7) maxillary teeth subequal, 28–30; (8) dorsal surface of head with distinct irregular yellow stripes and markings edged with ochre; (9) body with clear black and yellow longitudinal streaks, partly fused to several lighter patches or thicker stripes anteriorly; and (10) venter pale yellow, with asymmetric blackish speckles along outer margin. We present an updated diagnostic key to all members of the genus Opisthotropis, and recommendations on the ecological study for the group are provided.

Key words: Distribution; Natricinae; Natural history; Taxonomy; OpisthotropisOpisthotropis zhaoermii sp. nov.