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Calamaria arcana YEUNG, LAU & YANG, 2022

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Calamariinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Lingnan Reed Snake
Chinese: 岭南两头蛇 
SynonymCalamaria arcana YEUNG, LAU & YANG 2022
Calamaria pavimentata – LI et al. 2011 
DistributionChina (Mt. Dadongshan, Nanling National Nature Reserve, Guangdong Province)

Type locality: Mt. Dadongshan, Nanling National Nature Reserve, Lianzhou County, Qingyuan City, Guangdong Province, China (中国广东南岭国家级自然保护区大东山管理站). (24°55’58.5”N 112°42’51.8”E)  
TypesHolotype: KFBG 14611, male. The specimen was found at between the hydroelectric station near Dadongshan Management Station (24°55’58.5”N 112°42’51.8”E) and Shizi Ping (石仔坪), 800–900 m above sea level, collected by Michael W.N. Lau on 7 July 2000 at 9:20 am. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Calamaria arcana sp. nov. is assigned to the genus Calamaria by its molecular phylogenetic position and the following morphological characters: dorsal scales in 13 rows throughout body, possessing elongate, cylindrical bodies, along with internasals and prefrontals fused, four supralabials and five infralabials (Inger and Marx 1965; Ziegler et al. 2008). Calamaria arcana sp. nov. could be distinguished from all other species of Calamaria by the combination of the following characters: (1) ten modified maxillary teeth; (2) four supralabials, second and third supralabials entering orbit; (3) preocular present; (4) mental not touching anterior chin shields; (5) six scales and shields surrounding the paraparietal; (6) 170 ventral scales; (7) 22 paired subcaudals; (8) tail not gradually tapering, abruptly tapering at the tip; (9) dorsal scales reduced to five rows above last subcaudal at tail; (10) dorsum of body and tail brownish; (11) dark collar on nuchal region absent; (12) two outermost dorsal scale rows light yellow with upper margins partly dark pigmented; (13) ventral scales immaculate, without dark outermost corners and pigmentation anteriorly; and (14) absence of distinct dark longitudinal line or scattered spots on the underside of tail. (YEUNG et al. 2022).

Description of holotype: Male. Rostral wider than high (height 1.8 mm, width 2.2 mm), portion visible from above about equal to prefrontal suture; prefrontal shorter than frontal, not entering orbit, and touching first two supralabials; frontal hexagonal, about 2.2 times maximum width of supraocular; paraparietal surrounded by six shields and scales; a single preocular present, higher than postocular; postocular one, higher than wide, not as high as eye diameter; eye diameter 1.4 mm, larger than eye-mouth distance 0.8 mm; distance from anterior corner of eye to nostril 1.9 mm and to the tip of snout 3.1 mm; pupil rounded; supralabials 4/4 (left/right, hereafter), second and third entering orbit, fourth longest, third about 0.9 times of second in length, first shorter than third and as wide as second; mental semicircular to triangular, not touching anterior chin shields; infralabials 5/5, first three touching anterior chin shields; first pair of chin shields meeting in midline, second pair touching anteriorly and separated posteriorly by first gular scales; three gulars in midline between second chin shields and first ventrals; dorsal scales in 13 rows throughout body, reducing to eight rows above 3rd subcaudal, to seven rows above 8th subcaudal, to six rows above 10th subcaudal, and to five rows above the last subcaudal on tail; ventral scales 170, subcaudals 22, divided, followed by a shield covering tail tip; anal scale single.
Head length 7.1 mm; head width 5.1 mm; SVL 281.5 mm; TaL 21.7 mm; TL 303.2 mm; body thickness about 5.8 to 6.4 mm; body thickness index at mid body 0.021; tail root 4.5 mm thick; tail not as thick as body, slightly tapering then abruptly tapering at tip; TaL/TL ratio 7.2%; maxillary teeth modified, 10/10. (YEUNG et al. 2022). 
CommentCalamaria arcana sp. nov. is currently only known from a single specimen. 
EtymologyThe species epithet “arcana” is the nominative form the Latin adjective “arcanus” meaning “hidden”, “secret” and is given in feminine form to match the female genitive declension of the genus name Calamaria. It refers to the fact that this species is difficult to find with only a single specimen discovered during our long term survey in southern China.

The common name refers to the Lingnan (岭南, means ‘South of the Nanling Mountains’) region where the new species is found. Lingnan is a geographic area referring to the lands in the south of the Nanling Mountains, covering the modern Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan, as well as northern Vietnam. 
  • Inger, R. F. & H. MARX 1965. The systematics and evolution of the oriental colubrid snakes of the genus Calamaria. Fieldiana: Zoology 49: 1-304. - get paper here
  • Li ZC, Xiao Z, Liu SR 2011. Amphibians and reptiles of Guangdong. [In Chinese] Guangdong Science and Technology Press, Guangzhou, 266 pp.
  • Yeung HY, Lau MWN, Yang J-H 2022. A new species of Calamaria (Squamata: Colubridae) from Guangdong Province, southern China. Vertebrate Zoology 72: 433-444 - get paper here
  • Ziegler, Thomas; Nguyen Van Sang, Nguyen Quang Truong 2008. A New Reed Snake of the Genus Calamaria Boie (Squamata: Colubridae) from Vietnam. Current Herpetology 27 (2): 71-80 [2009] - get paper here
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