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Hebius arquus (DAVID & VOGEL, 2010)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymAmphiesma arquus DAVID & VOGEL 2010
Hebius arquus — GUO et al. 2014
Amphiesma arquus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 28 
DistributionIndonesia (Borneo)

Type locality: “Borneo”  
TypesHolotype: NMW 37943, an adult male. Deposited by Franz Steindachner, 1878. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A species of the genus Amphiesma, characterized by a combination of the following characters: (1) elongate body; (2) a long tail, amounting for 30% of the total length; (3) 17 gradually enlarged maxillary teeth, followed without diastema by 3 moderately enlarged posterior teeth; (4) nostrils slightly dorsolateral; (5) 17 – 17 – 15 DSR, all strongly keeled; (6) no loreal, prefrontal in contact with SL 2 – 3; (7) a high number of ventrals (187); (8) supralabials dark, the first seven supralabials ornate on their upper part by an arched white streak; and (9) a largely obscured venter. A comparison with other species of the genus Amphiesma and of other natricine genera of Borneo and adjacent regions is given in David & Vogel 2010. The pattern of supralabials, the high number of ventral scales and the lack of loreal scales are enough to distinguish Amphiesma arquus sp. nov. from all other natricine species.

Coloration. Body dark grayish-brown, with most scales edged with black; anterior third of body ornate with large, diffuse dark brown blotches on DSR 2 – 3 and 6 – 7, more or less quincuncially arranged, with white diffuse, irregular spots in between on DSR 4 – 5, all progressively vanishing; second third of body uni- formly dark grayish-brown, with some white spots; pos- terior third of body of same color, with elongate dark brown streaks forming a continuous stripe on rows 6 – 7 and dark dots or DSR 2 – 3. A white ventrolateral stripe, edged with blackish-brown below, extends on the neck and 1st DSR from the corner of the mouth up to the level of VEN 20. Tail as posterior third of the body.
Head dark gray with irregular dark brown fleckings and spot above, dark brown on its sides and supralabials; supralabials irregularly lighter on their lower part; a short, pure white curved streak on the top of SL 1 – 7 and on middle of SL 8; a large white spot on the bottom of SL 9, prolonged by the ventrolateral stripe on the neck.
Venter light yellowish-ochre, heavily speckled with dark brown; tip of each ventral with a well defined blackish-brown on the first quarter of the body, progres- sively becoming paler and merging with body color. Tail as body but much less speckled, becoming nearly uni- form towards its tip; posterior infralabials, chin and throat yellowish-ochre, heavily speckled with dark brown; anterior infralabials mottled with dark brown.

Amphiesma arquus sp. nov. is distinguished from other species of the Sunda Region by the combination of an elongated body, 17 + 3 enlarged maxillary teeth, 17 – 17 – 15 dorsal scale rows, all strongly keeled, absence of a loreal, a high number of ventrals and subcaudals, supralabials ornate with white arched markings, and an obscured venter.
EtymologyThe specific nomen is the Latin noun arquus (-us), meaning “arches,” by reference to the white arched streaks on the upper part of each anterior supralabial. It is here considered a noun in apposition in the plural, and not an adjective. 
  • David, Patrick and Gernot Vogel. 2010. A new species of Natricine snake genus Amphiesma from Borneo (Squamata: Natricidae). Russ. J. Herpetol. 17 (2): 121-127 - get paper here
  • Gemel, R.; G. Gassner & S. Schweiger 2019. Katalog der Typen der Herpetologischen Sammlung des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien – 2018. Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien, B 121: 33–248
  • GUO, PENG; FEI ZHU, QIN LIU, LIANG ZHANG, JIAN X. LI, YU Y. HUANG & R. ALEXANDER PYRON 2014. A taxonomic revision of the Asian keelback snakes, genus Amphiesma (Serpentes: Colubridae: Natricinae), with description of a new species. Zootaxa 3873 (4): 425–440 - get paper here
  • Stuebing, R.B., Inger, R.F. & Lardner, B. 2014. A field guide to the snakes of Borneo, second edition. Natural history Publications (Borneo)
  • 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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