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Naja atra CANTOR, 1842

IUCN Red List - Naja atra - Vulnerable, VU

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Chinese Cobra
G: Chinesische Kobra
Chinese: 舟山眼镜蛇 
SynonymNaja atra CANTOR 1842
Naja tripudians var. scopinucha COPE 1859: 343
Naja tripudians var. larrata STEINDACHNER 1867 (nomen praeoccupatum)
Naja tripudians var. unicolor PETERS in MARTENS 1876
Naia tripudians var. fasciata BOULENGER 1896: 383 (part.)
Naja naja atra — STEJNEGER 1907: 394
Naja kaouthia atra — DERANIYAGALA 1960
Naja naja atra — GOLAY 1985: 45
Naja sputatrix atra — LINGENHOLE & TRUTNAU 1989
Naja atra — ZIEGLER 2002: 275
Naja (Naja) atra — WALLACH et al. 2009
Naja atra — WALLACH et al. 2014: 460
Naja atra — WANG et al. 2022 
DistributionChina (S of the Yangtze River: Zhejiang, Fujian, Southern Anhui, Jiangxi, Hunan, Western Hubei, Guizhou, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Taiwan), N Vietnam

Type locality: Chusan (= Zhoushan), China.  
TypesNeotype. CIB 12273, subadult female, collected from Zhoushan Island, Zhejiang Province, China, in July 1983. Holotype: nondesignated (T.E. Cantor, July 1840– March 1841), lost fide Golay et al. (1993: 185). (status unclear fide P. Campbell, pers. comm., March 2019).
Holotype: ANSP 6988 [scopinucha] 
DiagnosisDiagnoses. This species is characterized by the following combination of characters: (1) body scales smooth, scale rows at anterior body 20–27 (23.7 ± 1.7, n = 29), mid‐body 19–23 (20.8 ± 1.0, n = 31), posterior body 15 (n = 29); (2) ventrals 161–175 (170.9 ± 3.2), sub‐ caudals 33–50 (45.0 ± 3.7) (n = 29); (3) total length for adults 1041–1412 mm (1215.1 ± 117.6 mm), tail length 130–222 mm (176.9 ± 25.6 mm) (n = 13), tail length/total length 0.119–0.164 (0.146 ± 0.012, n = 19, including adults and juveniles); (4) usually one small scale between posterior chin shields (72%) rarely two (28%) (n = 29); (5) dorsum mostly dark or deep brown in adults and juveniles, few specimens are light brown; (6) throat pale usually without dark mottling, distinct ventrolateral throat spots, followed by a broad dark or deep brown band; (7) hood markings mostly formed as a pale heart‐ shaped with a dark center and two small dark dots on the side; (8) most adults and ju‐ veniles with narrow light‐colored crossbands on dorsal middle and posterior body 5–21 (11.3 ± 3.7, n = 27) and dorsal tail 1–7 (4.6 ± 1.8, n = 26); (9) hemipenial spines on distal part weakly connected at base, arranged in rows; and (10) fangs not modified for spitting, venom discharge orifice large; however one case of spitting was observed in captivity [56].
Description of Neotype. (Figure 4A) Head moderate, triangular, widest at middle parietals. Body dimensions: snout‐vent length 730 mm, tail length 122 mm, head length 20.2 mm (snout to end of parietal suture), head width 19.8 mm, head height 8.8 mm, dis‐ tance between eyes 10.3 mm.
Body scalation. Ventrals 175, subcaudals 45 pairs. Dorsal scales smooth, rows 22‐21‐15; elongated, gradually broader toward ventrals; vertebral scales similar with adjacent dorsal scales.
Head scalation. Scales smooth. Rostral slightly visible in dorsal view. Nasals large, divided, nostril vertically oval, larger than half the eye, surrounded by prenasal anteriorly and postnasal for the remainder of the sides. Loreal scale absent. Preocular 1/1 (left/right), bordering widely with third supralabial, supraocular, prefrontal, and slightly with eye, in‐ ternasals and postnasals. Internasal paired, widely in contact with each other. Prefrontal paired, in shape of right trapezoid, in broad contact with one another. Frontal moderate, longer than wide, shield‐shaped. Parietals large and paired, largest length about 1.4 times of frontal length, each bordering frontal, upper two supraoculars, anterior and posterior temporals, and two small scales on dorsal head. Eyes rounded, moderate, vertical diam‐ eter equal to height of border of fourth supralabial. Postoculars 3/3, middle postocular larger than the two other ones, much smaller than preocular, the lowest widely in contact with fourth and fifth supralabials. Temporals 2+3/2+2; lower anterior temporals hexago‐ nal, longer than high; lowest posterior temporal is largest on lateral head, shape irregular. Supralabials 7/7; first two smallest, bordering nasals; third and fourth higher than wide, bordering eye; the seventh longest. Mental triangular in front and ventral view of head. Infralabials 9/9; first to third in contact with anterior chin shields; the first pair contacting each other, and anterior edge of anterior chin shields; the fourth in contact with both ante‐ rior and posterior chin shields; the fifth small and poorly developed, barely seen in ventral view of head, leaving the fourth in broad contact with the sixth; the sixth in contact with posterior chin shields; the seventh to ninth elongated, not contacting chin shields. The two pairs of chin shields butterfly shaped. Only one elongated scale separating posterior chin shield.
Coloration in preservative. Dorsal and upper lateral head brown, lower head paler, sutures of the first to sixth supralabials and fourth to seventh supralabials partially edged with narrow deep brown borders. Dorsum and tail deep brown, 16 light brown crossbands present on body, covering one row of dorsal scales, with narrow dark fringes, crossbands indistinct anteriorly, gradually distinct on posterior body and tail. Seven light brown cross‐ bands present on dorsal tail, with clear dark fringes. Most crossbands on body and tail bifurcate near ventrals, with a dark spot at the base of crossbands. Hood markings mostly pale brown, heart‐shaped; with a distinct larger dark core patch and two smaller dark side patches, broadly in contact with pale brown edges of the side of the neck. A small dark patch present on borders of eighth ventral scale. Dorsal scales between hood marking and small dark patch pale brown. Ventral surfaces of head and neck mostly white, stained with light yellow; first broad band on ventrals dark, commencing at 14th ventral and covering al‐ most five ventrals; three ventrals (19th–21st) after first dark band almost yellowish‐cream, then becoming gradually brown, completely deep brown by the 24th ventral; ventrals af‐ ter 24th mostly uniformly deep brown, a few with pale lateral edges due to light brown crossbands on dorsum partially intruding upon ventrals; cloacal shield and subcaudals light brown, paler at places where light brown crossbands on dorsal tail intrude.

Variation. (Figure 5) Body length for adults 891–1194 (894 ± 181) mm, total length 1041–1412 (1215 ± 118) mm (n = 13). The coloration on the body is mostly dark or deep brown on adults as well as juveniles or hatchlings. Crossbands on body are regular on most individuals (64%, n = 36) while crossbands on a small part of population are irregular (some forked) (31%), or absent (6%). Hood markings mostly heart‐shaped (79%, n = 33) with two small dark dots (82%, n = 33); mostly one (72%, n = 29), rarely two (28%), small scales between posterior chin shields. The first ventral crossband begins between at the level of 12th–17th (14.2 ± 1.1, n = 33) ventrals. 

Synonymy partly after STEJNEGER 1907.

Distribution: possibly in Yunnan (China) but records from there are questionable (Wang et al. 2022). For a map see Shi et al. 2022: 3 (Fig. 1). 
EtymologyNamed after its color, Latin “ater, atra, atrum” = dark or black. 
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