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Gloydius swild SHI & MALHOTRA, 2021

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Crotalinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Glacier pit viper
Chinese: 冰川蝮 (Bīng Chuān Fù) 
SynonymGloydius swild SHI & MALHOTRA in SHI et al. 2021 
DistributionChina (Heishui, Aba, Sichuan)

Type locality: Heishui, Aba, Sichuan  
Reproductionovovivparous. One adult female (Holotype) was collected when pregnant, gave birth to eight neonates (including a couple of conjoined twins) on September 20th, 2017 in captivity. The weight of the normal neonates ranged between 3.00–3.45 g (3.01, 3.22, 3.22, 3.23, 3.28, 3.45, average = 3.235, n = 6). The weight of the conjoined twins was 2.86 g (weighed after the first shedding). (Shi et al. 2021). 
TypesHolotype: IVPP OV2725 (G2, Figs 1, 3), adult female, collected from Heishui, Aba, Sichuan (32.23°N, 102.80°E, 2940 m), on 23 July, 2017, by the senior author; paratype, IVPP OV 2726, adult male, the same locality as the holotype, collected by Jia-Wei Wu (chief executive officer of SWILD Group). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Gloydius swild sp. nov. differs from other congeneric species in the following characteristics: i) the narrower postorbital stripe, ii) a pair of round spots on the parietal scales; iii) the absence of the black spots on the lateral body; iv) 21 rows of mid-body dorsal scales; v) a pair of arched stripes on the occiput; vi) 168–170 ventral scales, and vii) 43–46 subcaudal scales. (Shi et al. 2021).

Comparisons: Morphologically, Gloydius swild sp. nov. is quite similar to G. angusticeps, but differs by the narrower, straight bordered brown postorbital stripe (versus wider postorbital stripe with dentate lower border in G. angusticeps). G. swild sp. nov. differs from G. strauchi, G. huangi, and G. rubromaculatus by the narrow triangular head from dorsal view (versus spoon-shaped head in above-mentioned species), from G. monticola by having seven supralabials (versus always six supralabials) and more subcaudal scales (43–46 pairs versus always fewer than 30 pairs of subcaudal scales), from G. qinlingensis and G. liupanensis by its dark greyish brown background dorsal color (versus yellowish-brown body color) and lacking a lateral white line on each side (versus possessing a lateral white line on each side), from G. himalayanus by possessing an indistinct canthus rostralis (versus very distinct canthus rostralis; Gloyd and Conant 1990). (Shi et al. 2021).

Color in life: Gloydius swild sp. nov., eye light greyish brown on the upper half while black on the bottom half, pupil black, vertical with light yellow margins; postorbital stripe relatively narrow, only half the width of the anterior temporals, greyish brown and white bordered on the lower edge, extending from the posterior orbit to the lateral surface of the neck; supralabials and infralabials greyish white, scattered with large irregularly sized, black blotches, rendering the lateral head granitoid. One black Ω-shaped mark on the anterodorsal head, covering the posteromedial part of prefrontals, the anterior and lateral part of the frontals and the anterior part of the parietals. The infralabials are bordered with yellow on the lower edge.

The body coloration is dark blueish-grey, with two rows of irregular black X-shaped or C-shaped crossbands on the mid-body, each covering about 10 dorsal scales (or more), separated by a gap of one or two dorsal scales vertically, sometimes in contact with the adjacent ones forming zigzag stripes, but hardly merged on the medial dorsal line, extending laterally to one or two dorsal scales from the ventrals. Ventral scales light grey, scattered with dense irregular black blotches, rendering the ventral scales granitoid. The tip of tail is bony, similar to the main body in coloration on both ventral and dorsal sides (Figs 1C, D, 3D–F). Despite the inconspicuous variation in the coloration among the type series of G. swild sp. nov., the scalations vary considerably between the two specimens. The range of the temporal scales of the holotype (IVPP OV 2725) is 3+5 on the left side but 2+4 on the right side, while in the paratype (IVPP OV 2726), the temporal scales are displayed as 2+4 on both sides. Ventrals range from 168–170 in females (n = 2), while range from 43–46 in females (n = 3, including one shed skin from the wild). Total length ranges from 529.5–629.1 in adult females. The infralabials of the paratype lack the greyish-yellow margins seen in the holotype. (Shi et al. 2021).
CommentSimilar species: Gloydius strauchi, Gloydius angusticeps 
  • Shi J-S, Liu J-C, Giri R, Owens JB, Santra V, Kuttalam S, Selvan M, Guo K-J, Malhotra A 2021. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of the genus Gloydius (Squamata, Viperidae, Crotalinae), with description of two new alpine species from Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China. ZooKeys 1061: 87-108 - get paper here
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