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Hebius viperinus (SCHENKEL, 1901)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymXenochrophis viperinus SCHENKEL 1901: 155
Xenochrophis viperinus — BARBOUR 1912
Xenochrophis viperinus — DE ROOIJ 1917: 53
Xenochrophis viperina — WERNER 1929
Amphiesma viperina — MALNATE & MINTON 1965
Amphiesma [viperinum] — TORIBA 1994
Amphiesma viperinum — DAVID, VOGEL & PAUWELS 1998
Hebius viperinum — GUO et al. 2014
Amphiesma viperinum — WALLACH et al. 2014: 35
Hebius viperinus — DAVID et al. 2021 
DistributionIndonesia (endemic to Sumatra: region of the Indragiri River, Riau Province)

Type locality: "Indragiri, Sumatra." [=Indragiri, Sumatera, western Indonesia].  
TypesHolotype: NMBA 1495, a 250 mm male (A. von Mechel). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (ruthveni): [note: text may have OCR issues] A race of Amphiesma vibakari with 54 to 69 subcaudals. Inhabits Cheju-do, Korea, Manchuria, and the USSR Far Eastern Provinces. (Map 1.) Although the two subspecies of vibakari are most readily separated by the number of subcaudals, additional differences are indicated. In apparent correlation with the variation in subcaudals is an average reduction in the tail/total length ratio in the continental population. This ratio in vibakari is: 23 to 27% mean 25.6%, in 22 females; 23-29%, mean 26.8%, in 17 males; and in ruthveni: 21-28%, mean 23.0% in 16 females; 23-27%, mean 24.0%, in 9 males.
A tendency toward the reduction of labials is exhibited by ruthveni. There are normally 7 supralabials in both vibakari and ruthveni. In ruthveni, 6 occurs in ten counts out of seventy-six, 13% (each side counted as one), of the counts made; in vibakari, 6 occurs only once in 98 counts (1%); also, 8 occurs only once (1%) in ruthveni but this number is recorded thirteen times in vibakari (13%). A similar tendency is found in the number of infralabials. Eight is the normal number; 7 occurs six times (8%), in the ruthveni counts but only once (1%), in the vibakari counts; and, in addition, in vibakari, 9 occurs 44 times (45%), and 10 occurs once (1%). (Figure 1).
More vibakari specimens have a reduced postocular count than ruthveni specimens. Three postoculars are normally present, two occurs 34 times among 116 counts (29%), in vibakari, and in 16 of 74 counts (22%), in ruthveni.
The change in the character of the temporal region between the two populations can best be expressed by the sum of the temporal scales present on each specimen (i.e., a temporal formula noted as 1 + 2 designates 3 scales on each side of the head, one anterior and two posterior, a total of 6 temporals). In ruthveni there are 8 temporals in four specimens (10%), 7 in three specimens (7%), 6 in fifteen specimens (36%), 5 in two specimens (5%) and 4 in eighteen specimens (43%). In vibakari a total of 8 temporals occurs in one specimen (2%), 7 in three specimens (5%), 6 in fourteen specimens (25%), 5 in three specimens (5%), 4 in thirty-three specimens (58%), 2 in three specimens (5%). The sum of the temporals most common to ruthveni is 4 or 6; in vibakari the sum of 4 is more common and 6 less common than in ruthveni. In addition, 8 is of common occurrence in ruthveni, only rarely present in vibakari, and 2, which does not occur in ruthveni is occasionally present in vibakari. The Japanese population (vibakari), as in ocular counts, shows a stronger tendency to reduce the number of temporal scutes. (Figure 1.)
Some differentiation in pattern also is indicated. The dorsolateral light stripe usually is present in the nominate subspecies, whereas in ruthveni this pattern element rarely appears and the dorsum usually is uniformly colored. Emelianov (op. cit.) presents data that suggest a tendency toward an increase of dark pigment in the nuchal pattern in ruthveni. Five of 23 specimens studied by Emelianov have the light nuchal crescent broken into yellow spots. Among eleven specimens examined by me only three have a complete nuchal crescent; the nuchal pattern of thirteen is reduced to irregular, dark-edged light spots. The nuchal crescent is well-defined in all except five specimens among 45 vibakari. (Plate 1.)
A somewhat greater length is attained by vibakari than by ruthveni. The ten largest specimens recorded for each subspecies average, respectively, 519.9 mm. and 479.6 mm.
Five specimens from Cheju-do, three males and two females, are the only representatives of the population from that island examined. In most characteristics of scalation they are intermediate between ruthveni and vibakari. The reduced and broken nuchal crescent and uniform dorsal coloration, however, suggest a closer relationship with ruthveni. It is noteworthy that the number of ventrals and subcaudals (the tail is incomplete in one) are among the highest recorded for ruthveni (149 to 155, mean 153.3, ventrals and 67-68 subcaudals in two males and 68 in two females). Tail/total length ratios (0.237 to 0.271, mean 0.250) also are high.
The specimen from Sakhalin Island (BM 1907.2.4.1), a male, also shows high ventral and subcaudal counts (155 and 69, respectively); other scale characters are inconclusive. Supralabial and nuchal patterns show a strong increase of dark color; both are reduced to a series of dark-edged light spots on the posterior two labials and the nape. The ventrals are marked with paired black spots at each side, except under the throat where the spots are reduced to the normal, single series along each side. Doubling of the ventral spotting has not been noted in any other specimen. The Sakhalin population is assumed to be associated with ruthveni.
Additional specimens from the island would be of great interest.
Pavloff (loc. cit.) reports two specimens from Imienpo, Manchuria, southeast of Harbin. His brief description notes the presence of a light vertebral stripe, a character not otherwise known for either race of vibakari. Close examination of the photograph accompanying Pavloff's report shows what appears to be a middorsal stripe, but because of the poor quality of the photograph, and its reproduction, this cannot certainly be determined. Unfortunately, Pavloff gives little data for his specimens other than pattern; they are, however, apparently representatives of ruthveni. (Malnate 1962: 258). 
  • David P., G. Vogel & Pauwels,O. 1998. Amphiesma optatum (Hu & Djao, 1966) (Serpentes, Colubridae): an addition to the snake fauna of Vietnam, with a list of the species of the genus Amphiesma and a note on its type species. Journal of Taiwan Museum 51 (2): 83-92 - get paper here
  • David, P. & Das, I. 2003. A new species of the snake genus Amphiesma (Serpentes: Colubridae: Natricinae) from Western Sumatra, Indonesia. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 51(2): 413-419 - get paper here
  • 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,P. & Vogel, G. 1996. The snakes of Sumatra. An annotated checklist and key with natural history notes. Bücher Kreth, Frankfurt/M.
  • de Rooij, N. DE 1917. The Reptiles of the Indo-Australian Archipelago. Il. Ophidia. Leiden (E. J. Brill), xiv + 334 S. - get paper here
  • 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
  • Schenkel, E. 1901. Achter Nachtrag zum Katalog der herpetologischen Sammlung des Basler Museums. Verh. naturf. Ges. Basel, 13:142-199. - get paper here
  • TEYNIÉ, ALEXANDRE; PATRICK DAVID, & ANNEMARIE OHLER 2010. Note on a collection of Amphibians and Reptiles from Western Sumatra (Indonesia), with the description of a new species of the genus Bufo. Zootaxa 2416: 1–43 - 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.
  • Ziegler, T., and Quyet, L.K. 2006. A new natricine snake of the genus Amphiesma (Squamata: Colubridae: Natricinae) from the central Truong Son, Vietnam. Zootaxa 1225: 39-56 - get paper here
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