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Macrocalamus emas QUAH, ANUAR, GRISMER, WOOD & NOR, 2019

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Calamariinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Golden-bellied Reed Snake 
SynonymMacrocalamus emas QUAH, ANUAR, GRISMER, WOOD & NOR 2019 
DistributionWest Malaysia (Pahang: Cameron Highlands)

Type locality: Gunung Brinchang, Cameron Highlands, Pahang, West Malaysia (04°31.105N 101°22.571E; at 1811 m a.s.l.)  
TypesHolotype: USMHC 1866, Adult male, collected on 20 August 2015 by Evan S. H. Quah.
Paratypes: The paratype USMHC 1867 bears the same data as the holotype. Paratypes LSUHC 11682–11684 bear the same locality data as the holotype but were collected on 26 April 2014 by Evan S. H. Quah and L. L. Grismer. Paratypes USMHC 1956–1958 bear the same locality data as the holotype but were collected on 21 October 2015 by Evan S. H. Quah and Rupert G. Lewis. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Macrocalamus emas is diagnosable from all other species of the genus by its maximal adult SVL in males (201 mm) and females (218 mm), TL in males (241 mm) and females (245 mm). Head relatively stocky, triangular and indistinct from neck; snout pointed; nasal fused with first supralabial; one elongate loreal scale; ventrals 113–126 (males 113– 118 and females 116–126); 18–29 paired subcaudals (males 26–29 and females 18–21); having a venter that is uniformly bright yellow in the median one- third and bordered by broad, dark brown stripes on the outer edges; a faint single, ventrolateral stripe that is obscured by dark coloration from the dorsum; dorsum reddish to dark brown, with a series of paravertebral ocelli running along the back that are sometimes obscured; presence of an oblique streak on the head extending from temporals to throat; and absence of oblique streaks on body.

Comparisons: Macrocalamusemasisdifferentiated from M. gentingensis, M. jasoni and M. tweediei by having a dorsum that is brown to dark brown with ocelli present vs. black in the latter three species. It is furtherdifferentiatedfromM.gentingensisbylacking the yellow, oblique streaks on the sides of the head and neck and yellow spots on the tail; from M. jasoni by lacking dorsolateral stripes on the body and a uniformly yellow venter; and from M. tweediei by lacking the chequered black and yellow venter pattern. Macrocalamus emas can be further distinguished from M. jasoni and M. tweedie by its lower ventral count (113–126 vs. 131–134 and 128–147, respectively). Macrocalamus emas is distinguished from M. chanardi and M. vogeli by having a faint, single, dark ventrolateral stripe that is obscured by the dark coloration of the dorsum vs. a prominent stripe. It can also be distinguished from M. vogeli by its few subcaudals (18–28 vs. 29). Macrocalamus emas differs from M. lateralis by lacking double, dark, ventrolateral stripes and the absence of a loreal scale in the latter. Macrocalamus emas can also be differentiated from those three species by the median one-third of the venter being uniformly bright yellow and bordered by broad, dark brown stripes vs. a uniformly orange to pink venter in M. chanardi and M. lateralis and a yellowish brown venter with heavy speckling in M. vogeli. In comparison, M. schulzi is distinguished from M. emas by its venter coloration being uniformly bright yellow and the absence of broad, dark brown stripes on the borders and by the presence of faint yellow, oblique streaks on the neck in M. schulzi that are absent in M. emas. A summary of diagnostic characters is presented in Table 5 in Quah et al. 2019. 
CommentHabitat: This species is an upper montane species that occurs in mossy forest habitat. The type series was found by digging through leaf litter and surface debris in drains and along the trail up to Gunung Brinchang during all hours of the day.

Diet: One specimen regurgitated an earthworm after it was collected.

Syntopy: Collorhabdium williamsoni, M. schulzi, M. tweediei. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet ‘emas’ is the Malay word for ‘gold’, in reference to the colour of the venter, which is bright, golden yellow in life. 
  • Quah, Evan S H; Shahrul Anuar, Lee L Grismer, Perry L Wood, Siti Azizah Mohd Nor 2019. Systematics and natural history of mountain reed snakes (genus Macrocalamus; Calamariinae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 188: 1236 - 1276 - get paper here
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