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Ahaetulla laudankia DEEPAK, NARAYANAN, SARKAR, DUTTA & MOHAPATRA, 2019

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Ahaetuliinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesLaudankia vine snake 
SynonymAhaetulla laudankia DEEPAK, NARAYANAN, SARKAR, DUTTA & MOHAPATRA 2019
Dryophis mycterizans – SCLATER 1891 (part)
Ahaetulla nasuta isabellinus – DUTTA et al. 2009 
DistributionIndia (Odisha)

Type locality: Bangriposi, Mayurbhanj district, Odisha state (22.142167N, 86.520025E  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. ZSI CZRC 6403, adult female, collected by Manoj V. Nair and S. K. Dutta, 15 June 2010.
Paratypes (2). ZSI-CZRC-6404, adult male, Nilagiri, Balasore district, Odisha state (21.471232N, 86.634096E), collected by Vivek Sarkar, 15 March 2013; ZSI-R-26412 (Figure 4), subadult male, Madhapur, along Khajuriakata-Madhapur road, Harabhanga Tehsil, Boudh District, Odisha state (20.442518N, 84.503152E), collected by Pratyush P. Mohapatra on 5 May 2009. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A medium-sized Ahaetulla (largest TL 1184 mm (male), 1237 mm (female)) with dermal appendage; 192–202 ventrals, 154–185 divided subcaudals; 8 teeth on maxilla and 9 on palatine; dorsal scale reduction from 15 to 13 rows occurs between ventrals 143–147; ochre brown/chestnut brown dorsum with black spots, paler supralabials, white lower lip, and light orange/brick red venter with a pair of whitish line on both sides of the mid venter.
Morphologically, Ahaetulla laudankia can be distinguished from all its congeners except Ahaetulla nasuta sensu lato (see discussion), A. pulverulenta and A. anomala in having a long dermal appendage (vs. snout without dermal appendage) (Figure 5 in Deepak et al. 2019).
Ahaetulla laudankia differs from A. nasuta sensu lato in having a higher number of ventrals: explicitly – 192–202 (vs. 168–184 in A. nasuta from Sri Lanka (both with long and short dermal appendages); vs. 171–181 in A. nasuta from India (both with long and short dermal appendages); 169–181 in A. nasuta cf isabellina (see discussion), and 168 ventrals in Wall’s type of Dryophis mycterizans isabellinus = A. nasuta isabellina) (Tables 2, 3 and S4).
Ahaetulla laudankia can be distinguished from A. pulverulenta in having its dermal appendage formed by a single scale with mid-dorsal groove (vs. dermal appendage formed by multiple scales without mid-dorsal groove), and dermal appendage shorter than horizontal eye diameter (vs. dermal appendage longer than horizontal eye diameter).
Ahaetulla laudankia differs from A. anomala in having a higher number of ventral scales – 192–202 (vs. 170–189); dermal appendage formed by a single scale (vs. multiple scales) and coloration – adults of both sexes have a brown dorsum speckled with black and brick-red ventrals (vs. brown adult females and green adult males) and in having an un-patterned head (vs. head with a black rhomboidal pattern).
Based on scale reduction, Ahaetulla laudankia can be distinguished from A. nasuta sensu lato (both morphs with long or short dermal appendages from Sri Lanka as well as India), A. nasuta cf. isabellina and A. anomala. In A. laudankia scale reduction from 15 to 13 rows occurs between ventrals 143–147 in four out of five specimens examined by us (Table 3) vs. 110–127 in A. nasuta with long dermal appendage and 121–137 in A. nasuta with a short dermal appendage from India; vs. 117–120 in A. nasuta with long dermal appendage and 119–132 in A. nasuta with short dermal appendage from Sri Lanka; vs. 110–128 in A. nasuta cf. isabellina and vs. 119–129 in A. anomala. 
CommentDistribution: see map in Deepak e al. 2019: 499 (Fig. 1). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet, laudankia,refers to the vernacular name of the species in Odia (language spoken in Odisha state of India), alluding to the snake’s resemblance to dried stems (‘danka’) of bottle gourd (‘lau’). 
References
  • Deepak, V., Narayanan, S., Sarkar, V., Dutta, S. K. & Mohapatra, P. P. 2019. A new species of Ahaetulla Link, 1807 (Serpentes: Colubridae: Ahaetullinae) from India. J. Nat. Hist. 53: 497–516 - get paper here
 
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