Wednesday, July 18, 2018

[Herpetology • 2018] Sinomicrurus houi • A New Species of the Genus Sinomicrurus Slowinski, Boundy & Lawson, 2001 (Squamata: Elapidae) from Hainan Province, China

Sinomicrurus houi Wang, Peng & Huang, 2018  

in Peng, Wang, Ding, Zhu, Luo, et al., 2018.
Hou’s Coral Snake || DOI: 10.16373/j.cnki.ahr.170090 

A new species of the coral snake genus Sinomicrurus is described based on four specimens from southern Hainan Island (three specimens from Tianchi, Jianfengling National Nature Reserve, one specimen from Diaoluoshan National Nature Reserve), Hainan Province, China. Morphologically, the new species is rather similar to Sinomicrurus kelloggi. However, it is distinct from S. kelloggi by the pattern on the head, the head length, head length/width, the number of infralabial scales, number of bands on dorsal body, and number of blotches on the belly.

Keywords: Hainan; morphology; taxonomy; Sinomicrurus kelloggiSinomicrurus houi sp. nov.

 Figure 5 Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov. preyed on juveniles of Dinodon rufozonatum in captivity.
Photo by Hang Yang and Wei Li.

Figure 3 Dorsal head views of Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov.: holotype HUM20170001 (A), paratypes Re5410, CIB108251, HUM20170004 (B, C, D), morphological transition type from Vietnam (Orlov et al., 2003) and Yunnan (Sun et al., 2016) (E, F)
and typical Sinomicrurus kelloggi from Yunnan Province (Wang et al., 2015) and Anhui (Chen et al., 2013). (G, H). 

Photos by Lifang Peng and Diancheng Yang (A, B, C, D).

Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov. Wang, Peng and Huang  
Suggest English name: Hou’s coral snake. 
Suggest Chinese name: 海南华珊瑚蛇 (Hǎi Nán Huá Shān Hú Shé).

Etymology: The species name is a patronym honoring Mian HOU (Sichuan Normal University, China), a modern herpetological enthusiast and naturalist. He has been contributing substantially to the taxonomy and life history of amphibians and reptiles for 20 years. He collected 3 of the 4 type specimens. 

Diagnosis: Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov. differs from the known five congeners by a combination of the following characters: 1) dorsal scale rows (DSC) 15: 15: 15, smooth throughout; 2) ventrals (VL) 173–183; 3) subcaudals (SC) 27–38; 4) head relatively elongated, head length (HL) 2.0–2.1 times as long as head width (HW); 5) no loreal; 6) supralabials (SL) 7/7, infralabials (IL) 7/7; 7) dorsal surface scarlet, with 16–19 edged yellowish black bands on trunk of body, 2–4 on tail; 8) numbers of ventral spots 34–42; 9) dorsum of head having a narrow white broadwise band in the forefront of head (covering almost all the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th supralabials, preoculars, and continuing through forefront prefrontals) and two symmetric white stripes appearing a Chinese symbol for the figure eight (“ 八 ”, from both sides of frontal to neck sides and gradually widening); 10) maxillary teeth behind the fangs present.

Figure 4 The habitat of Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov. on Tianchi, Jianfengling National Nature Reserve, Ledong County: A: The holistic habitat; B and D: the microhabitat; C: The microhabitat on the side of a stream where S. houi sp. nov. was found hunting.
Photos by Mian Hou. 

Distribution The new species is currently known from the National Nature Reserves of Diaoluoshan, Jianfengling and Wuzhishan (Chu and Huang, 1990; Zhao, 2004; Wang, 2014), Hainan Province, China.

Natural History Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov. is a nocturnal terrestrial snake, living in the forest floor of montane rain forest, usually hidden in deciduous or humic layers very close to streams or ditches. It feeds primarily on snakes, consuming small snakes and the juveniles of snakes which live in the same habitats, such as Indotyphlops braminus, Argyrophis diardii, Hebius popei and H. boulengeri etc., presumably they also prey on grass lizards and skinks, and may also feed on the sleeping juveniles of Acanthosaura lepidogaster and Pseduocalotes microlepis resting on the roots of bushwoods. In captivity, they catch actively and feed on juveniles of Dinodon rufozonatum (Figure 5), Xenochrophis flavipunctatus, Pantherophis guttatus and skinks).

 Lifang Peng, Lijun Wanf, Li Ding, Yiwu Zhu, Jian Luo, Diancheng Yang, Ruyi Huang, Shunqing Lu and Song Huang. 2018. A New Species of the Genus Sinomicrurus Slowinski, Boundy and Lawson, 2001 (Squamata: Elapidae) from Hainan Province, China. Asian Herpetological Research. 9(2); 65-73. DOI: 10.16373/j.cnki.ahr.170090

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