Saturday, June 5, 2021

[Herpetology • 2021] Achalinus huangjietangi • A New Species of the Genus Achalinus (Serpentes : Xenodermidae) from Huangshan, Anhui, China

Achalinus huangjietangi  R. Huang, Peng, & S. Huang, 

in Huang, Peng, Yu, ... et Huang, 2021
 Huang’s Odd-scaled Snake | 黄家岭脊蛇 || 

A new species of the genus Achalinus is described based on five specimens collected from the villages of Huangjialing and Fuxi, Huangshan, Anhui, China. It can be morphologically differentiated from all the other species in Achalinus except for A. spinalis and A. werneri by the presence of a dotted black streak in the middle of the subcaudal. It can be distinguished from A. spinalis in that its two anterior temporals are in contact with eye, and A. werneri by its light brown flanks. The phylogenetic relationship of Achalinus was reconstructed using the mitochondrial locus of cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (CO1). The five new specimens form a monophyletic clade with strong support. The uncorrected p-distances between the new species and other representatives of Achalinus range from 13.6% to 21.7%. The recognition of the new species increases the number of described Achalinus species to 14.

Keywords: Achalinus huangjietangi sp. nov.;  Huangjialing Village;  morphology;  molecular phylogeny;  taxonomy

Achalinus huangjietangi  
General aspect of paratype (HSR18220, SNHM5412) in life.
Dorsal (A) and ventral (B) views; Dorsal (C), ventral (D), Right (E) and Left (F) views of head. The frontal dehiscence in the middle (C).

Achalinus huangjietangi sp. nov. Ruyi HUANG, Lifang PENG, and Song HUANG 
Suggested English name: Huang’s Odd-scaled Snake. 
Suggested Chinese name: 黄家岭脊蛇 (Bopomofo: Huáng Jiā Lǐng Jǐ Shé).

Diagnosis: The new species of Achalinus tha t can be differentiated from its congeners by the following combination of characters: an iridescent, black (in juveniles) or brown (in adults) dorsum with vertebral scales and about half of the adjacent dorsal scales dark, forming a longitudinal vertebral line from posterior margin of parietals to tail tip, a light brown venter, ventral shields wide and visible on both sides, light brown flanks, a black dot in the middle of each subcaudal scale, giving the appearance of a black subcaudal streak, dorsal scales weakly keeled and do not overlap, 23 dorsal scale rows throughout the body, outermost dorsal row smooth and significantly enlarged, preocular and postocular absent, an internasal suture half of the length of the prefontal suture, temporals 2+2+4, elongated with the two anterior temporals in contact with eye, a pair of significantly enlarged uppermost posterior temporals (super-temporal) separated from each other by a small intertemporal behind the parietals.

Etymology: The species name is derived from the name of Professor Jietang Huang (Huangshan Institude of Ophiology), a senior ophiologist who has been contributing substantially to snake researche over 50 years. Born and raised in Huangjialing Village, he was the first college graduate from the village.

Natural History: Specimens were found in secondary conifer/ broad-leaved mixed forests (Figure 1) at elevations from 220 to 450 m a. s. l. Achalinus huangjietangi sp. nov. is a nocturnal, secretive and subterranean snake, living in the forest floor, and is usually hidden in deciduous and humic layers close to streams and ditches. 

 Ruyi Huang,  Lifang Peng, Lei Yu, Tianqi Huang, Ke Jiang, Li Ding, Jinkang Chang, Diancheng Yang, Yuhao Xu and Song Huang. 2021. A New Species of the Genus Achalinus from Huangshan, Anhui, China (Squamata: Xenodermidae). Asian Herpetological Research. 12(2); 1-10 . DOI: 10.16373/j.cnki.ahr.200075