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Naja naja (LINNAEUS, 1758)

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Common cobra, Spectacled cobra
G: Kobra, Brillenschlange 
SynonymColuber Naja LINNAEUS 1758: 221
Naja brasiliensis LAURENTI 1768
Naja fasciata LAURENTI 1768
Naja lutescens LAURENTI 1768
Naja maculata LAURENTI 1768
Naja non-naja LAURENTI 1768
Coluber caecus GMELIN 1788
Coluber rufus GMELIN 1788
Coluber Naja — SHAW & NODDER 1791: plate 74
Coluber Naja — SHAW & NODDER 1794: plate 181
Naja tripudians MERREM 1820
Naja nigra GRAY 1830
Naja tripudians forma typica BOULENGER 1896
Naja tripudians var. caeca BOULENGER 1896 (part.)
Naja naja — STEJNEGER 1907
Naia naia var. polyocellata DERANIYAGALA 1939
Naja naja naja — SMITH 1943
Naja naja gangetica DERANIYAGALA 1945
Naja naja lutescens DERANIYAGALA 1945
Naja naja madrasiensis DERANIYAGALA 1945
Naja naja indusi DERANIYAGALA 1960
Naja naja bombaya DERANIYAGALA 1961
Naja naja karachiensis DERANIYAGALA 1961
Naja naja ceylonicus CHATMAN & DI MARI 1974
Naja naja polyocellata MEHRTENS 1987
Naja ceylonicus Osorio E CASTRO & VERNON 1989
Naja (Naja) naja — WALLACH et al. 2009
Naja naja karachiensis — ZEEB 2012
Naja naja karachiensis — LAITA 2013
Naja naja — WALLACH et al. 2014: 461
Naja polyocellata — SHI et al. 2022
Naja polyocellata — SILVA et al. 2023 
DistributionPakistan, India (throughout most of the country, incl. Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, [Dino Aulakh, pers. comm.], Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana), Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, E Afghanistan (?)

Type locality: “India orientali”; restricted to Sri Lanka by Wüster & Tillack 2023.  
TypesLectotype: ZMB 2796; NRM (= NHR) Lin-90 (formerly MAFR), designated by Wallach et al. 2014: 470, is an invalid lectotype. ZMB 2796 is also the type of Naja brasiliensis Laurenti, 1768.
Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.18.50 [Naia naia var. polyocellata] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (subgenus Naja): Extracranial (ventral) anterior Vidian canal position, 0–1 solid maxillary teeth in all species (Wüster, 1990—only 6 out of 650 specimens examined in that study had 2 solid maxillary teeth), seven supralabials with penultimate (sixth) shield low, combination of single preocular and two (occasionally three) anterior temporals, rostral broader than deep; internasals shorter than prefrontals; fang structure variable, all species except N. naja and N. oxiana have some degree of adaptation to spitting (Wüster & Thorpe, 1992b). We tentatively include the extinct †Naja (Naja) romani (Hofstetter, 1939) in this subgenus based on the shared derived condition of the basisphenoid morphology and the vestibular window, despite the possession of two solid maxillary teeth (Szyndlar & Rage, 1990). 
CommentVenomous! This is one of four common venomous snakes of medical importance in India. The others are Echis carinatus, Bungarus caeruleus, and Daboia russeli.

Subspecies: All Asiatic Naja used to be regarded as subspecies of Naja naja.

Synonymy: Shi et al. 2022 resurrected Naja polyocellata, without providing an updated diagnosis or other details, although they do state that “the insular population of Sri Lanka is different from continental populations by having 15 or more (sometimes up to 20) dark ventral bands vs. one to four bands”. Wüster & Tillack 2023 confirmed that polyocellata is a subjective junior synonym of Naja naja.

Type species: Naja lutescens LAURENTI 1768 is the type species of the genus Naja LAURENTI 1768 as well as the type species of the subgenus Naja LAURENTI 1768.

Types: Andersson (1899) stated that NRM 90 is not the one described by Linnaeus (1754) or used by Linnaeus (1758), on account of its differing size, pattern and scale counts. Wallach et al. (2014) designated this specimen as lectotype of Coluber naja, without any additional information. This designation is invalid because Linnaeus (1758) makes no mention whatsoever of any specimen matching the description of NRM 90 in his description of C. naja. For further discussion see Wüster & Tillack 2023 who designated ZMB 2796 as lectotype.

Distribution: Reports from Myanmar probably represent N. kaouthia or N. mandalayensis. For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013, de Silva et al. 2019.

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018).

Key: Branch 1981 has a key to the species of Southern Africa. 
EtymologyEtymology (Naja): derived from the Sinhala Naya, cobra. 
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