Saturday, May 21, 2022

[Herpetology • 2022] Trimeresurus mayaae • A New Cryptic Species of Green Pit Viper of the Genus Trimeresurus Lacépède, 1804 (Serpentes: Viperidae) from northeast India

Trimeresurus mayaae   
Rathee, Purkayastha, Lalremsanga, Dalal, Biakzuala, Muansanga & Mirza, 2022

Maya’s Pit Viper  ||  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268402
photos by H. T. Lalremsanga & J. Purkayastha.

A new cryptic species of green pit viper is described from northeast India, based on specimens collected from the state of Mizoram and Meghalaya. The new species is a member of the subgenus Viridovipera and is sister to Trimeresurus medoensis based on molecular data for mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, whereas resembles Trimeresurus gumprechti morphologically. A combination of characters helps delimit the new species from its congeners. Description of the new species highlights the need for dedicated surveys across northeast India to document its reptilian diversity, as this represents the third new species of the genus to be described in the past three years.

Trimeresurus mayaae sp. nov. in life
(a) holotype male NCBS NRC-AA-0012,  
(b) uncollected male , 
(c) uncollected female 
photos by Hmar Tlawmte Lalremsanga & Jayaditya Purkayastha.

Trimeresurus mayaae sp. nov.
Trimeresurus stejnegeri in part Malhotra & Thorpe 2004: 230
Trimeresurus yunnanensis in part Malhotra & Thorpe 2004: 230
Trimeresurus gumprechti David & Mathew 2005: 87

Diagnosis: A species of the genus Trimeresurus, characterized by (1) hemipenes short and strongly spinose; (2) body green in both males and females; (3) interstitial skin black; (4) moderate size, with maximum total length of 750mm; (5) conspicuous bicolored postocular stripe in males, thin and white below, wide and bright red above, faint white or no postocular stripe present in female (6) vivid, wide bicolored ventrolateral stripe, deep red below/white above in males, extending along the lower half of the tail, white in females; (7) eyes rust coloured in males, green in females; (8) tail mostly rusty or reddish-brown (9) V: 157–162; SC: 54–67 in males and V: 153; SC: 54–55 in females; (10) first supralabial distinct from nasal; (11) 19 or 21 dorsal scale rows at midbody, moderately keeled; (12) snout covered with rather enlarged juxtaposed scales; (13) internasals never in contact, separated by 1–2 scale; (14) supraoculars narrower than internasals, separated by 9–10 smooth cephalic scales.

Etymology: The species epithet is an eponym honouring late Maya Singh Rathee, mother of Yashpal Singh Rathee. English name: Maya’s Pit Viper.

Yashpal Singh Rathee, Jayaditya Purkayastha, Hmar Tlawmte Lalremsanga, Siddharth Dalal, Lal Biakzuala, Lal Muansanga and Zeeshan A. Mirza. 2022. A New Cryptic Species of Green Pit Viper of the Genus Trimeresurus Lacépède, 1804 (Serpentes, Viperidae) from northeast India. PLoS ONE. 17(5): e0268402. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268402