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Calliophis haematoetron SMITH, MANAMENDRA-ARACHCHI & SOMAWEERA, 2008

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Blood-bellied coralsnake 
SynonymCalliophis haematoetron SMITH, MANAMENDRA-ARACHCHI & SOMAWEERA 2008
Calliophis melanurus — TAYLOR 1950: 583–585 (part)
Calliophis melanurus — BAHIR 1999: 22–24 (in part)
Calliophis melanurus sinhaleyus — DERANIYAGALA 1951: 147–148 (in part)
Calliophis melanurus sinhaleyus — DAS & DE SILVA 2005: 57 (in part)
Calliophis sp. — SOMAWEERA 2006: 154–155
Calliophis haematoetron — WALLACH et al. 2014: 145 
DistributionSri Lanka

Type locality: Wasgomuwa National Park, [Central Province], Sri Lanka, ca. 90 m elevation (ca. 7.648056° N 80.93583° E).  
TypesHolotype: NMSL 1621, adult female, (= WHT) (The Wildlife Heritage Trust of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka), collected 7 June 1997 by Mohomed M. Bahir and Sampath Nanayakkara. Paratypes: (n=2) USNM 120334–120335, young male and adult female, respectively, from Clodagh Estate, Rattota, Matale [Central Province], Sri Lanka, ca. 570 m (ca. 7.521667° N 80.68472° E), collected on 2 July 1944 by Herbert G. Deignan
Holotype: NMSL 83 [sinhaleyus] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis—A small (152–414 mm TL, young male and mature female, respectively), brownish, terrestrial coralsnake in which the tail comprises 10.5% of the TL in the known male and 8.0–8.6% in the two known females. It has no sublabial-chin-shield contact, 6 supralabials, 6 infralabials, 2 postoculars, 225–239 ventrals, a divided anal, 29–35 divided subcaudals, dorsal scale rows arranged in 13 rows along entire body, and a color pattern consisting of 13–22 lateral body blotches and 2–3 tail bands (including one band in the cloacal region). The new species can be distinguished from the only other known Sri Lankan Calliophis, C. melanurus, in having a frontal that is about equal in length or slightly shorter (vs. longer) than the interparietal suture, a first sublabial that does not touch the second pair of chin-shields (vs. broad contact with second pair of chinshields), a relatively unpigmented head (vs. capped with black from rostrum to nuchal collar), no light spots posterolateral to the parietals, numerous bands on the dorsum of the body (13–22 vs. none; excluding nuchal collar and cloacal and tail bands), a blood-red body venter (vs. orange or yellow through most of the length), and in having red pigment lateral to blue coloration under the tail (vs. no red on tail). The new species can be distinguished from all other coralsnakes, except C. melanurus and Calliophis maculiceps (Günther, 1858), by its melanized tail base internal musculature, hypaxial, and associated epimysial and perimysial tissues (i.e., asulcate layer of hemipenis, m. propulsor, m. retractor penis magnus, and homologous muscles in females). The new species can be distinguished from all other Calliophis species in nearby India, C. beddomei (Smith, 1943), C. bibroni (Jan, 1858), C. melanurus, and C. nigrescens (Günther, 1862). From C. beddomei it differs in having fewer supralabials (6 vs. 7), first sublabials not touching the second pair of chin-shields, a pale head with light-brown subocular and cheek blotches (vs. head with melanic color, covering the snout and continuing caudally as a narrow interparietal line joining the dark collar and as lateral stripes from above the eye to the corner of the mouth), a body pattern of complete and incomplete bands and a few lateral anterior blotches (vs. pattern of paradorsal and lateral blotches separated by faint and broken medial stripe), a colorful venter (vs. immaculate light colored, including tail), and tail bands (vs. no bands, only small blotches). From C. bibroni it differs in having fewer supralabials (6 vs. 7), a light colored (vs. dark) snout, a preocular (vs. no preocular), two postoculars (vs. 1), 2 or 3 tail bands (vs. 4–6), thin dark bands on the body that are up to 2 scales wide (vs. usually 3–4 scales wide), a divided anal (vs. single), and higher ventral scute counts (males 225 vs. 219; females 232–239 vs. 222–227). It differs from C. nigrescens in having a first sublabial that does not contact the second pair of chin-shields (vs. broad contact), having 6 supralabials (vs. 7), dark subcaudal markings (vs. unmarked), and a dorsal pattern of bands (vs. striped, with longitudinal blotches, or unicolored). The new species differs from Calliophis gracilis Gray, 1835 in possessing fewer ventral scales (225–239 vs. 303–320), more subcaudals (29–35 vs. 21–23), 2 maxillary teeth posterior to fangs (vs. none), a dorsal pattern of narrow bands (vs. large and paired paravertebral spots and 5–7 well-defined stripes), and a venter with no bands (vs. numerous regularly spaced wide bands). From C. maculiceps it can be distinguished by its high number of ventrals (225–239 vs. 169–222), more subcaudals (29–35 vs. 20–31), lack of postocular stripes, the first sublabial not touching the second pair of chin-shields (vs. broadly touching), and a frontal that is shorter or about equal to the length of the interparietal suture (vs. longer). From the long-glanded coralsnakes Calliophis bivirgata (Boie, 1827) and Calliophis intestinalis (Laurenti, 1768), previously known as members of a the genus Maticora Gray, 1834 (see Slowinski et al. 2001), the new species differs in having a venom gland that is confined to the temporal region (vs. extending behind the head), a Harderian gland with a moderately developed posterior extension (vs. enlarged posterior extension, larger than the eyeball), pterygoids of moderate size and with 4 teeth (vs. reduced in size and with 2, 1, or no teeth), and a dorsal pattern of bands (vs. stripes). Additionally, the new species can be distinguished from C. bivirgata in lacking a bright red venter, head and tail dorsum, and from C. intestinalis in lacking a venter without bars and a blue (vs. red) subcaudal coloration. From species in the genus Sinomicrurus Slowinski, Boundy & Lawson, 2001, i.e., S. hatori (Takahashi, 1930), S. japonicus (Günther, 1868), S. kelloggi (Pope, 1928), S. macclellandi (Reinhardt, 1844), and S. sauteri (Steindachner, 1913) (sensu Slowinski et al. 2001), the new taxon differs in possessing no protuberant sclerified tail tip, 6 (vs. 7) supralabials, and a Harderian gland with a moderately developed posterior extension (vs. no extension). It can further be distinguished from S. hatori, S. japonicus, and S. sauteri in having no pattern of stripes, and from S. kelloggi and S. macclellandi in having no white band anterior to the nuchal band. From snakes in the genus Hemibungarus Peters, 1862, namely Hemibungarus calligaster (Wiegmann, 1834), that had previously been considered coralsnakes (e.g., Slowinski et al. 2001), the new species differs in having 13 dorsal scale rows (vs. 15), 1+2 temporals (vs. 2+2 or 2+3), more subcaudals (32–35 vs. <25), a divided anal plate (vs. single), and a Harderian gland with a moderately developed posterior extension (vs. no extension). Hemibungarus calligaster is now placed in the tribe Hemibungarini, and the genus Calliophis and the rest of the Asian and American coralsnakes in the tribe Calliophini, based on hemipenial and molecular data (Castoe et al. 2007). [from SMITH et al. 2008]. 
EtymologyThe specific name, haematoetron, is derived from the Greek adjective haematodes (bloody), and the Greek noun etron (belly) meaning “bloody belly” in reference to the bright-red venter of this “beautiful snake” (= Calliophis). 
  • Bahir, M.M. 1999. Scaring the enemy—The slender coral snake. Sri Lanka Nature, September, 22–24
  • Blackburn, D.G. 1993. STANDARDIZED CRITERIA FOR THE RECOGNITION OF REPRODUCTIVE MODES IN SQUAMATE REPTILES. Herpetologica 49 (1): 118-132 - get paper here
  • Das, I. & De Silva, A. 2005. Photographic guide to snakes and other reptiles of Sri Lanka. New Holland Publishers, 144 pp.
  • Kandamby, DharmaSri 1997. Herpetological types reposed in the National Museum Colombo, Sri Lanka. Lyriocephalus 3 (1): 31-33
  • Smith, E.N.; KELUM MANAMENDRA-ARACHCHI & RUCHIRA SOMAWEERA 2008. A new species of coralsnake of the genus Calliophis (Squamata: Elapidae) from the Central Province of Sri Lanka. Zootaxa 1847: 19–33 - get paper here
  • Somaweera, R. 2006. The Snakes of Sri Lanka. Wildlife Heritage Trust of Sri Lanka, Colombo, 270 pp.
  • Taylor, Edward H. 1950. The snakes of Ceylon. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 33 (14): 519-603 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
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