Sinovipera sichuanensis gen. et sp. nov.
A new genus and species of Asian green pitviper is described from Southwest China based on two female specimens. A new DNA phylogeny recovers the two specimens of the new species as a well-supported clade that is sister group to all sampled representatives of the generaViridovipera and Cryptelytrops. The new genus is distinguished from other pitviper genera by a combination of morphological characters, including the absence of a lateral stripe, large body size, and deep red eye in adult females. Morphologically the new species is superficially most similar to species of Popeia in body dimension and scalation, but is genetically extremely distinct. The new genus/species is currently known only from south Sichuan, where it was found at about 1000 m above sea level in less disturbed evergreen rainforest.
Key words: southeast Asia, DNA, phylogeny, snakes, taxonomy
FIGURE 3. General view of the holotype (YBU071077) of Sinovipera sichuanensis gen. et sp. nov. in life.
Sinovipera gen. nov.
Type species: Sinovipera sichuanensis sp. nov.
Holotype: YBU071077, an adult female (Figs. 3–4) from Hejiang County, Sichuan Province, China. It was collected near a small river in the forest by a local farmer at an elevation of 1000 m above sea level in August 2007. The specimen is deposited in Yibin University.
Paratype: YBU030116, an adult female (Figs. 5–6). Collected in July 2003, from the same locality, and by the same farmer, as that of the holotype. The specimen is deposited in Yibin University.
Etymology: The generic nomen Sinovipera is derived from the modern Latin adjective sinicus(a, um), based on the noun Sina (-ae), “China”, and the Latin noun Vipera (-ae), meaning '“a viper”. We suggest that the common name of this new genus be “Chinese pitviper” in English.
FIGURE 1. The type and only known locality of Sinovipera sichuanensis gen. et sp. nov., indicated by a solid square. The black lines show borders between Chinese province-level divisions. Solid circles indicate major cities.
FIGURE 7. The habitat in the vicinity of the type locality of Sinovipera sichuanensis gen. et sp. nov..
FIGURE 4. Dorsal (a), ventral (b), and lateral (c) views of the head of the holotype (YBU071077) of Sinovipera sichuanensis gen. et sp. nov.
Diagnosis: A genus of Asian pitviper within Trimeresurus (sensu lato) having the following combination of characters: (1) the first supralabial completely separated from the nasal; (2) a uniform green dorsum without postocular streak and ventrolateral stripes in females; (3) eyes deep red in females; (4) tail prehensile, its end rusty red in upper part; (5) large body size, with the maximum total length exceeding 1000 mm in females.
Distribution: Presently, it is only known from the type locality, although it also likely occurs in western Chongqing, northwestern Guizhou, China.
Peng Guo and Yuezhao Wang. 2011. A new genus and species of cryptic Asian green pitviper (Serpentes: Viperidae: Crotalinae) from southwest China. Zootaxa, 2918: 1-14.: http://pages.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/Sinovipera.pdf