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Hebius annamensis (BOURRET, 1934)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Annam Keelback 
SynonymParahelicops annamensis BOURRET 1934
Opisthotropis annamensis — SMITH 1943: 334
Parahelicops annamensis —TAYLOR & ELBEL 1958
Parahelicops annamensis — ORLOV et al. 2003
Parahelicops annamensis — ZIEGLER et al. 2008
Amphiesma annamense — TEYNIÉ et al. 2013: 178 (in error)
Parahelicops annamensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 531
Hebius annamensis — KIZIRIAN et al. 2018
Hebius annamensis — DAVID et al. 2021 
DistributionVietnam (Ha Tinh; Kon Tum; Quang Binh; Quang Tri; Thua Thien-Hue), SE Laos (Champasak; Xékong)

Type locality: Bana, Annam, Vietnam [= Ba Na Nature Reserve, Da Nang City, Vietnam], 1500 m elevation.  
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 1938.0117, adult male; collected by René Bourret, 1 Jan. 1929 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus Parahelicops). A genus of medium-sized snakes of the family Natricidae characterized by (1) body elongate, (2) head moderately distinct from the neck, (3) eye moderate in size with a round pupil, (4) maxillary teeth progressively increasing in size in a continuous series, last 2 moderately enlarged, not separated from anterior teeth by a diastema, (5) nostrils piercing distinctly dorsolaterally, (6) upper head scales complete as for typical colubroids but prefrontal single in most specimens, (7) internasals distinctly narrowed anteriorly, (8) all SL distinctly longer than high, (9) dorsal scales in 15 or 17 rows at midbody, moderately keeled at midbody, strongly keeled posteriorly, especially before vent, (10) caudal scales around the base of the tail very strongly keeled, (11) more than 110 SC, paired, (12) hemipenes short, thin, single, and spinose.
Although Parahelicops annamensis usually has a single prefrontal, as in most species of Opisthotropis, it differs from this latter genus, as defined above, by (1) maxillary teeth enlarged vs. subequal teeth in Opisthotropis, (2) tail long vs. rather short or average in Opisthotropis (see the descriptions), (3) head moderately distinct from the neck vs. barely distinct in Opisthotropis, (4) eye large vs. small in Opisthotropis, (5) nostrils directed dorsolaterally vs. directed upwards in Opisthotropis, (6) SL much longer than high vs. distinctly higher than long in Opisthotropis, and (7) dorsal pattern with two rows of large rusty blotches, vs. more or less uniform, or with crossbars in species of Opisthotropis [DAVID et al. 2015]. 
CommentP. annamensis differs from all species of Opisthotropis by its enlarged posterior maxillary teeth and its supralabials much longer than high. Its position is currently under investigation (David et al. in prep.).

Type species: Parahelicops annamensis BOURRET 1934 is the type species of the genus Parahelicops BOURRET 1934.

Comparisons (genera): Ren et al. 2019: 121 (Table 6) provide a morphological comparison of natricine genera (Opisthotropis, Paratapinophis, Isanophis, Trimerodytes balteatus, Hebius annamensis, Trachischium fuscum/guentheri, Rhabdops bicolor, Atretium yunnanensis, Pseudagkistrodon rudis multiprefrontalis).

Synonymy: Kizirian et al. 2018 synonymized Parahelicops with Hebius.

Abundance: rare. For a long time, this species has been known from only the holotype collected in central Vietnam. The second known specimen, and first recorded from Laos, was described by Stuart (2006). Subsequently, more specimens became available, especially from central Vietnam. 
EtymologyThe species name annamensis is derived from "Annam," the name given to the French protectorate in central Vietnam, prior to that country's independence, where the holotype was collected. 
  • Bourret, R. 1934. Notes herpétologiques sur l'Indochine Française III. Ophidiens d’Annam et du moyen Laos. Bull. Instr. Pub. Gen. Hanoi. 9 (May 1934): 167-176
  • DAVID, PATRICK; GERNOT VOGEL, TRUONG QUANG NGUYEN, NIKOLAI L. ORLOV, OLIVIER S. G. PAUWELS, ALEXANDRE TEYNIÉ, THOMAS ZIEGLER 2021. A revision of the dark-bellied, stream-dwelling snakes of the genus Hebius (Reptilia: Squamata: Natricidae) with the description of a new species from China, Vietnam and Thailand. Zootaxa 4911: 1–61 - get paper here
  • DAVID, PATRICK; OLIVIER S. G. PAUWELS, TRUONG QUANG NGUYEN & GERNOT VOGEL 2015. On the taxonomic status of the Thai endemic freshwater snake Parahelicops boonsongi, with the erection of a new genus (Squamata: Natricidae). Zootaxa 3948 (2): 203–217 - get paper here
  • KIZIRIAN, DAVID; NGUYEN QUANG TRUONG, HANH THI NGO, AND MINH DUC LE, 2018. Parahelicops, Pararhabdophis, Paraphyly: Phylogenetic Relationships among Certain Southeast Asian Natricine Snakes (Hebius). American Museum Novitates, (3906):1-7 - get paper here
  • Nguyen, S.V., Ho, C.T. and Nguyen, T.Q. 2009. Herpetofauna of Vietnam. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 768 pp.
  • Orlov, N. L., S. A. Ryabov, N. Van Sang and N. Q. Truong 2003. New records and data on the poorly known snakes of Vietnam. Russ. J. Herpetol. 10: 217-240 - get paper here
  • REN, Jinlong; Kai WANG, Peng GUO, Yingyong WANG, Tao Thien NGUYEN, and Jiatang LI 2019. On the Generic Taxonomy of Opisthotropis balteata (Cope, 1895) (Squamata: Colubridae: Natricinae): Taxonomic Revision of Two Natricine Genera. Asian Herpetological Research 10 (2): 105–128; DOI: 10.16373/j.cnki.ahr.180091 - get paper here
  • Smith, M.A. 1943. The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including the Whole of the Indo-Chinese Sub-Region. Reptilia and Amphibia. 3 (Serpentes). Taylor and Francis, London. 583 pp.
  • 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.
  • Ziegler, Thomas; Patrick David, Vu Ngoc Thanh 2008. A new natricine snake of the genus Opisthotropis from Tam Dao, Vinh Phuc Province, northern Vietnam (Squamata, Colubridae). Zoosystematics and Evolution 84 (2): 197 -203 - get paper here
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