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Lycodon gibsonae VOGEL & DAVID, 2019

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Gibson’s Wolf Snake
F: Lycodon de Gibson
G: Gibsons Wolfszahnnatter
Thai: Ngoo Plong-chanuan Gibson 
SynonymLycodon gibsonae VOGEL & DAVID 2019
Lycodon fasciatus — INGER & COLWELL 1977: 235 (nec Ophites fasciatus ANDERSON) 
DistributionThailand (Nakhon Ratchasima)

Type locality: “Sakaerat Exp. Station, Amphoe Pak Thong Chai”, now the Sakaerat Environmental Research Station, Amphoe Wang Nam Khiao, at the south-western edge of Khorat Plateau, Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: FMNH 180146, an adult male (tail dissected), collected by W. Ronald Heyer on 5th May 1969.
Paratypes: FMNH 180144, an adult male (dissected; hemipenes in situ), from the same locality as the holotype; collected by W. Ronald Heyer on 26th March 1969. FMNH 180145, an adult male (dissected; hemipenes in situ), from the same locality as the holotype; collected by W. Ronald Heyer on 14th April 1969. See Fig. 2 in Vogel & David 2019. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A species of the genus Lycodon, characterized by: (1) loreal entering orbit; (2) 17–17–15 dorsal scale rows; (3) upper 3 or 4 and vertebral dorsal scale rows keeled; (4) about 223–226 VEN in males; (5) about 91– 92 SC in males; (6) relative tail length about 0.198 in males; (7) 17–18 cream, well-defined bands on a dark body; (8) first dorsal band starting at VEN 13–15; (9) width of the first band occupying 4, 5 or 6 vertebral scales; and (10) maximum SVL 906 mm in males.
This species can be recognized by its ventral and subcaudal scale counts (both higher than in L. fasciatus), by the first band on the body (broader in terms of vertebral scales than in L. fasciatus), and on the number of bands on the body (lower than in L. fasciatus). Most other characters match those of L. fasciatus.

Comparisons. It should be noted that, since no females of Lycodon gibsonae spec. nov. are known, only male characteristics were used in the comparisons. Lycodon gibsonae spec. nov. differs from most other species of the genus Lycodon, except those of the L. fasciatus-group as well as L. subcinctus, L. sidiki, L. dumerili, and L. butleri, by having its loreal contacting the eye. Lycodon gibsonae differs from L. subcinctus and L. sidiki by having a preocular (vs. absent) and from L. dumerili in having 8 infralabials (vs. 9) and by the lower number of subcaudals (91 or 92 vs. 111–120).
Lycodon gibsonae spec. nov. belongs to the group of Lycodon fasciatus. It differs from L. fasciatus by (1) its much larger size (SVL of the largest male of L. gibsonae: 906 mm, SVL of the largest specimen among 26 males of L. fasciatus: 674 mm), (2) the number of ventrals (223–226 vs. 199–213 in 25 males of L. fasciatus), (3) the number of subcaudals (91 or 92 in 2 specimens of Lycodon gibsonae spec. nov. vs. 74–90 in 20 males of L. fasciatus), (4) the number of bands on the body (17 or 18 vs. 19–43 in Lycodon fasciatus sensu stricto), and (5) the pattern of the bands on the posterior part of the body: in L. gibsonae spec. nov., bands remain well defined, largely cream and not more strongly speckled with dark brown than anterior bands whereas, in L. fasciatus, bands of the posterior part of the body and tail are much more strongly dark speckled than anterior bands, up to turning nearly entirely brown. There are also a few other minor points, which will be discussed elsewhere in a review of the Lycodon fasciatus complex (Vogel et al. in prep).
Regarding other species of the Lycodon fasciatus group, Lycodon gibsonae spec. nov. differs from L. butleri by the number of bands on the body, less than 19 vs. 30 or more in L. butleri, and by the pattern of the venter. In Lycodon gibsonae spec. nov., bands are more conspicuous posteriorly than on the anterior part of the venter, where the bands are faint, while in L. butleri the bands are more conspicuous anteriorly, while the venter is turning dark posteriorly with faint bands. Lycodon gibsonae spec. nov. differs from L. carvenicolus by the number of ventrals and subcaudals of the males (223–226 against 245 and 91 or 92 against 113 respectively), and in the number of bands on the body (17 or 18 against 36–45). The main difference with L. cardamomensis is the fact that the loreal scale is touching the eye in Lycodon gibsonae spec. nov. whereas it is separate from it in L. cardamomensis. The venter is banded in Lycodon gibsonae spec. nov. whereas it is not in L. cardamomensis. Lycodon gibsonae spec. nov. differs from L. gongshan by its shorter tail (0.198 against 0.231–0.255), by the lower number of bands on the body (17 or 18 against 37–41), and more infralabials (10 against 8 or 9). It differs from L. synaptor by the condition of the loreal scale, entering orbit in Lycodon gibsonae spec. nov. vs. separate from it in L. synaptor. It has more infralabials (10 against 8), a lower number of bands on the body (17 or 18 against 30 or 31), and a different shape of the bands (width of the first band at the base 10 or 11 against 3 ventrals). Finally, Lycodon gibsonae spec. nov. differs from L. liuchengchaoi by the number of ventrals (223–226 vs. 202–204) and subcaudals in males (91or 92 vs. 68), the number of infralabials (10 against 7–9), and the number of bands on the body (17 or 18 against 40–47). 
Comment 
EtymologyThis species is named after Mrs. Nancy Lynne Gibson, Executive director of the “Bird Conservation Society of Thailand” and President of the executive committee of the “Love Wildlife Foundation”, for her involvement in the protection of the wildlife in Thailand and, especially, of the primary forest which harbour the type locality of this new species. 
References
  • Inger, R.F. & Colwell, R.K. 1977. Organization of contiguous communities of amphibians and reptiles in Thailand. Ecological Monographs, 47, 229–253 - get paper here
  • Janssen HY, Pham CT, Ngo HT, Le MD, Nguyen TQ, Ziegler T 2019. A new species of Lycodon Boie, 1826 (Serpentes, Colubridae) from northern Vietnam. ZooKeys 875: 1-29 - get paper here
  • VOGEL, GERNOT; PATRICK DAVID 2019. A new species of the Lycodon fasciatus complex from the Khorat Plateau, eastern Thailand (Reptiles, Squamata, Colubridae). Zootaxa 4577 (3): 515–528 - get paper here
 
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