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Lycodon pictus JANSSEN, PHAM, NGO, LE, NGUYEN & ZIEGLER, 2019

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymLycodon pictus JANSSEN, PHAM, NGO, LE, NGUYEN & ZIEGLER 2019 
DistributionN Vietnam (Cao Bang Province)

Type locality: Trung Khanh District, Cao Bang Province, (altitude 701 m a.s.l.)  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. IEBR 4166 (field number CB 2012.97), adult male, collected on 18 April 2012 by TQN et al. Paratypes. ZFMK 93747, juvenile, collected on 15 October 2011 by TQN et al. (altitude 588 m a.s.l.), Ha Lang District, Cao Bang Province; ZFMK 93746, adult fe- male, collected on 10 April 2012 by TQN et al., Ha Lang District, Cao Bang Province. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Lycodon pictus sp. nov. can be differentiated from its congeners by the following morphological characters: dorsal scales in 17–17–15 rows, all smooth; su- pralabials usually eight (rarely nine); infralabials ten; one elongated loreal on each side, in contact with the eye; precloacal plate single; ventral scales 212–218 (plus one or two preventral scales); subcaudals 90 or 91; a total length of 597+ mm in males and 543 mm in females; tail / total length ratio 0.211–0.215; maxillary teeth 13 or 14; dorsal surface of body with 28 or 29 light body bands; dorsal surface of tail with 13 cream bands forming a distinct blotch in the vertebral region; ventral surface of body and tail mostly cream with the dark body bands in part extending towards the venter, some- times forming complete dark bands around the body.

Comparisons. In our phylogenetic analysis, Lycodon pictus sp. nov. is most closely related to L. liuchengchaoi and L. multizonatus. From L. liuchengchaoi, the new species differs in terms of body scalation (all smooth in the new species vs. feebly keeled in several median rows in L. liuchengchaoi), head scalation (ten infralabials vs. 7–9) and dentition (13 or 14 maxillary teeth vs. 8 or 9). In addition, the new species differs from the latter in having 28 or 29 cream body bands (vs. 40 yellow rings on the body in L. liuchengchaoi) (Zhang et al. 2015).
The new species differs from L. multizonatus by having more maxillary teeth (13 or 14 vs. 10 or 11 in L. multizonatus), more infralabials (10 vs. 8) and a single precloacal plate (vs. divided). In addition, the new species differs from the latter in terms of body scalation (minimum 212 ventrals and minimum 90 subcaudals vs. 190–195 ventrals and 68–75 subcaudals in L. multizonatus). Furthermore, L. pictus sp. nov. has fewer light body bands (28 or 29 vs. 55–73 in L. multizonatus) (Lei et al. 2014).
From its Vietnamese congeners, the new species can be differentiated as follows: Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. capucinus in having a single precloacal plate (vs. divided), a loreal touching the eye (vs. not in contact with the eye), in having more ventrals (minimum 212 vs. 182–211) and more subcaudals (90 or 91 vs. 59–74), and in terms of dorsal pattern (banded vs. reticulated) (Luu et al. 2019).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. cardamomensis in terms of dorsal scalation (17-17-15 smooth DSR vs. 19-17-15 weakly keeled DSR), in having a loreal in con- tact with the eye (vs. separated) and in having 28 or 29 light body bands (vs. 12-14 pinkish orange body bands) (Daltry and Wüster 2002, Do et al. 2017).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. davisonii in having 17 midbody dorsal scale rows (vs. 13 midbody dorsal scale rows), fewer ventral scales (maximum 218 vs. 235–265), more infralabials (10 vs. 8) and the absence of preocular (vs. present). In addition, the new species differs from the latter in having a different dorsal pattern (28 or 29 cream bands on body vs. 36 white rings on the body) (Blanford 1878, Boulenger 1893).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. fasciatus in having smooth dorsal scales (vs. keeled) and more maxillary teeth (13 or 14 vs. 11). Additionally, the colour pattern of Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs in being dark brownish black with light body bands turn- ing into a marbling posteriorly, whereas L. fasciatus is black or purplish black above with yellowish cross-bars of irregular outline and has a dark median stippling (Pope 1928, Smith 1943). Werner (1922) described Dinodon yunnanensis from Yunnan Fu, now Kunming, Yunnan Province, southwestern China. This species was synonymized with Lycodon fasciatus by Pope (1935: 188), but according to Vogel and David (2010), this taxon might be a distinct species (see also Vogel and David 2019). Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from Dinodon yunnanensis Werner, 1922 in having more ventrals (mini- mum 212 vs. 193), more subcaudals (90 or 91 vs. 66), more infralabials (10 vs. 9) and more light body bands (28 or 29 vs. 23) (Werner 1922, Vogel and David 2010, Vogel and David 2019).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. flavozonatus in terms of dorsal scalation (smooth vs. keeled), in having more subcaudals (90 or 91 vs. 80–88), the loreal in contact with the eye in Lycodon pictus sp. nov. (vs. separated in L. flavozonatus) and in coloration pattern (brownish black with 28 or 29 cream body bands and 9–13 light bands on the tail vs. black with 68 yellow body bands and 21 on the tail) (Pope 1928, Vogt in Pope 1928).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. futsingensis in having more ventrals (mini- mum 212 vs. 193–208) and more subcaudals (minimum 90 vs. 72–87). Additionally, the loreal does not enter the orbit in L. futsingensis, whereas it enters the orbit in Lyco- don pictus sp. nov. (Vogel et al. 2009).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. laoensis in having a single precloacal plate (vs. divided), more ventral scales (minimum 212 vs. 163–192), more subcaudal scales (minimum 90 vs. 60–76), an elongated loreal scale in contact with the orbit (vs. sepa- rated) and cream body bands (vs. yellow) (Grismer et al. 2014, Neang et al. 2014).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. meridionalis in having smooth dorsals (vs. feebly keeled in 10–12 median rows), a lower ventral scale count (maximum 218 vs. 227–240) and fewer subcaudals (maximum 91 vs. 96–106). In addition, the new spe- cies differs in having cream body bands (vs. yellow thin crossbars) (Gawor et al. 2016 and examined ZFMK specimens, see Appendix 1).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. namdongensis in having more subcaudals (90 or 91 vs. 85) and the loreal in contact with the eye (vs. separated from the eye in L. namdongensis). The new species also differs in coloration pattern (brownish black with 28 or 29 light bands on the body vs. grey with 23 cream cross rings on the body in L. namdongensis), and in having irregular bands turning into a marbling posteriorly (vs. clearly demarcated cross bands on the body) (Luu et al. 2019).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. paucifasciatus in terms of dorsal scalation (17-17-15 smooth DSR vs. 19-(19-17)-15 DSR, the upper one or two plus vertebral row distinctly keeled) and fewer ventral scales (maximum 218 vs. 219–222). In addi- tion, the new species has a loreal entering the eye (vs. separated) and 28 or 29 light body bands (vs. 14–25 beige or dirty cream body bands) (Vogel et al. 2009).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. rosozonatus in having 17-17-15 smooth DSR (vs. 19-19- 15(17) keeled DSR), fewer ventral scales (maximum 218 vs. 221–234) and a loreal in contact with the eye (vs. separated). In addition, the new species has cream body bands (vs. pinkish red) (Hu et al. 1975, Neang et al. 2014).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. rufozonatus in having a loreal in contact with the eye (vs. separated), smooth dorsal scales (vs. feebly keeled in the posterior body part), and in coloration pattern (28 or 29 cream body bands vs. 44–52 light red body bands) (Zhao 2006, Luu et al 2018).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. ruhstrati abditus in having smooth dorsals (vs. 7–8 dorsal scale (including vertebral) rows keeled), an elongated loreal in contact with the eye (vs. separated), and in having irregular bands turning into a marbling posteriorly (vs. clearly demarcated cross bands on the body) (Vogel et al. 2009).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. septentrionalis by its smooth dorsal scales (vs. 7–9 median rows feebly keeled), 10 infralabials (vs. 7 or 8), and the loreal entering the orbit (vs. separated in L. septentrionalis). In addition, the new species differs in having cream irregular bands on a brown body (vs. white narrow bands on a black body form- ing complete annuli) (Günther 1875, Boulenger 1893, Neang et al. 2014).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. subcinctus in having 10 infralabials (vs. 8 or 9), one preocular (vs. preocular absent), smooth dorsal scales (vs. feebly keeled) and 28 or 29 cream bands on the body and 9–13 on the tail (vs. 9–15 bands on the body and none on the tail) (Boulenger 1893, Neang et al. 2014).
Lycodon pictus sp. nov. differs from L. ophiophagus, a species from southern Thai- land but with similar scalation, in having a loreal entering the eye (vs. separated) and in dorsal colour pattern (28 or 29 light bands on a brown body vs. 20 or 21 white bands on a dark body) as well as and in having irregular bands turning into a marbling poste- riorly (vs. clearly demarcated cross bands on the body) (Vogel et al 2009).
For additional measurements, dentition, and scalation data see Tables 2–8 in Janssen et al. 2019. 
CommentHabitat: karst environment. Specimens were found at night between 19:00 and 23:00, on forest paths or on the ground near cave entrances. The surrounding habitat was secondary karst forest, consisting of medium and small hardwood trees mixed with shrubs and vines. Air temperature was 23.4–29.6°C and humidity was 66–79%.

Sympatry: Acanthosaura lepidogaster, Gekko adleri, Goniurosaurus luii, Lycodon futsingensis, Protobothrops trungkhanhensis. 
EtymologyThe name of the species pictus means painted or decorated in Latin and refers to its unique dorsal colour pattern. 
References
  • 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
  • Kwet, A. 2020. Liste der im Jahr 2019 neubeschriebenen Reptilien. Elaphe 2020 (3): 44-67
 
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