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Coelognathus helena (DAUDIN, 1803)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesCoelognathus helena helena (DAUDIN 1803)
Coelognathus helena monticollaris (SCHULZ 1992)
Coelognathus helena nigriangularis MOHAPATRA, SCHULZ, HELFENBERGER, HOFMANN & DUTTA 2016 
Common NamesE: Trinket Snake
G: Indische Schmucknatter 
SynonymColuber helena DAUDIN 1803: 277
Herpetodryas helena — SCHLEGEL 1837: 192
Cynophis bistrigatus GRAY 1849: 246
Plagiodon Helena — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 170
Herpetodryas malabaricus JERDON 1854: 530 (fide BOULENGER 1894)
Cynophis helena — GÜNTHER 1858: 95
Cynophis helena — GÜNTHER 1859: 231
Cynophis malabaricus — BEDDOME 1863
Cynophis helena — ANDERSON 1871: 174
Cynophis malabariensis — MÜLLER 1881
Coluber helena — BOULENGER 1894: 36
Coluber helena — WALL 1921: 197
Elaphe helena — SMITH 1943: 149
Elaphe helena — DAS 1996: 56
Elaphe helena — SCHULZ 1996: 133
Coelognathus helena — HELFENBERGER 2001
Coelognathus helena — UTIGER et al. 2002
Elaphe helena — AVADHANI 2005
Coelognathus helenus — JANZEN et al. 2007
Coelognathus helenae — BURBRINK & LAWSON 2007
Elaphe helena — MURTHY 2010
Coelognathus helena helena — THAKUR 2011
Elephe helena — FELLOWS 2015 (in error)
Coelognathus helena — WALLACH et al. 2014: 172
Coelognathus helenam — BHATTARAI et al. 2018 (in error)
Coelognathus helena helena — GANESH et al. 2018

Coelognathus helena monticollaris (SCHULZ 1992)
Cynophis malabariensis var. carinata MÜLLER 1878: 671
Cynophis malabaricus — BEDDOME 1862: 16 (non Herpetodryas malabaricus JERDON 1853)
Elaphe helena monticollaris SCHULZ 1992 (nom. nov.)
Elaphe helena monticollaris — SCHULZ 1996: 136
Coelognathus helena monticollaris — WHITAKER & CAPTAIN 2004
Coelognathus helena monticollaris — THAKUR 2011
Coelognathus helena monticollaris — GANESH et al. 2014
Coelognathus helena monticollaris — GANESH & ARUMUGAM 2016
Coelognathus helena monticollaris — GANESH et al. 2018

Coelognathus helena nigriangularis MOHAPATRA et al. 2016
Coelognathus helena nigriangularis — PAWAR et al. 2017
Coelgnathus helena nigriangularis — GANESH & GUPTHA 2021 (in error) 
DistributionSri Lanka, India (Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa = Odisha, Telangana, Nagaland, Maharashtra (Pune (=Poona) district) [A. Captain, pers. comm.], Rajasthan, Punjab), Pakistan (Sind) ?, Nepal, Bangladesh

Elevations up to 900 m (Sri Lanka)

Type locality: India: Vishakhapatnam (Daudin, 1803)

monticollaris: India (Western Ghats: Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gujarat) (Whitaker & Captain 2008); Type locality: Mangalore Karnataka, SW India.

nigriangularis: India (Odisha, S Chhattisgarh, NE Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, E Maharashtra); Type locality: Gupteswar, Koraput District, Odisha, India (18°49’17.02’’ N, 82°10’0.04’’ E, 462 m elevation).  
TypesHolotype: iconotype, based on description and color plate in Russel (1796: 37; Pl. XXXII; 'Mega Rekula Poda'), from Vizagapatam (= Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, southeastern India).
Holotype: NMBA (NHMB) 1230, adult [monticollaris]
Holotype. BNHS 3470 (Figs. 16, 22, and 23) [nigriangularis] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (nigriangularis). Coelognathus helena nigriangularis subsp. nov. is a moderate-sized snake (largest available specimen: 1386 mm in total length); snout-vent-length nearly 5 times longer than tail length; head slightly dis- tinct from the rest of the body, elongated; eyes medium size, horizontally elongated; rostrum slightly visible from above the head. Coelognathus h. nigriangularis subsp. nov. is morphologically allied to C. h. monticollaris but can be distinguished from the latter in having: (1) a black marking extending from the ventro-lateral side of the neck and joins at the head near the base of pa- rietal shield, forming an inverted V or Y (instead of a collar in the neck area which is connected with a dark U- or V-shaped marking in the neck in monticollaris from CNWG, or a necklace right behind the neck in monticollaris from SWG). (2) absence of dark festoon markings that connect the banded dorsal pattern on the ventrals (always present in monticollaris); (3) cross bands usually staggered to each other and not connected by a 5th ocelli marking in the vertebral region (instead of clear bands (rings) with 5 – 6 ocelli markings in monticollaris); (4) each cross band contains four ocelli markings (instead of five ocelli markings in monticollaris from CNWG and 5 – 6 in monticollaris from SWG); (5) a larger distance between the first five transverse (cross) bands (10 – 15 dorsals) (instead of 6 – 13 dorsals in monticollaris from CNWG); (6) two supralabials in contact with the eye (instead of usually three supralabials (in contact with the eye) in monticollaris from SWG); (7) a lower ventral count (max. 248 ventrals) (instead of max. 250 ventrals in monticollaris from CNWG and max. 261 ventrals in monticollaris from SWG (see Fig. 28 in Mohapatra et al. 2016).
CommentDistribution: Possibly in Bhutan (Lenz 2012). Not in Pakistan fide KHAN 2002 (pers. comm.). See map in Mohapatra et al. 2016: 116 (Fig. 1).

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
EtymologyDaudin doesn’t seem to explain the etymology of this species. Beolens et al. believe that it may have been named after Helen of Troy, the classical embodiment of female beauty, in mind when he chose the binomial.

The name nigriangularis is composed by the Latin words nigri = “black,” and angularis = “angular,” that refers to the black V- or Y-shaped marking in the neck of this species. 
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