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Psammophis turpanensis CHEN, LIU, CAI, LI, WU & GUO, 2021

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Higher TaxaPsammophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Turpan Sand Snake
Chinese: 吐鲁番花条蛇 (Tu Lu Fan Hua Tiao She) 
SynonymPsammophis turpanensis CHEN, LIU, CAI, LI, WU & GUO 2021
Taphrometopon lineolatum — WALLACH et al. 2014: 695 (partim)
Psammophis lineolatus — ZHAO & ALDER 1993: 252 (partim)
Psammophis lineolatus — ZHAO, HUANG & ZONG 1998: 241 (partim)
Psammophis lineolatus — ZHAO 2006: 256 (partim) 
DistributionChina (Xinjiang: Turpan Basin)

Type locality: Near Aydingkol Lake (42.70894°N, 89.25705°E),Turpan Basin, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, elevation 151 meters below sea level)  
Reproductionoviparous (Chen et al. 2021) 
TypesHolotype: CIB, 11824, adult female, collected by Jinlong Liu, Minli Chen, and Na Wu, on 25 September 2020 
DiagnosisPsammophis turpanensis sp. nov. can be distinguished from the recognized congeners by a combination of the following characters: 1) dorsal scale 17 rows at midbody, rostral visible from upper side; 2) anal divided, subcaudals paired; 3) 9 supralabials, of which the 4th to 6th are touching the eyes; 4) head subtriangular, and body slightly compressed; 5) 209 ventrals (including one preventral) in the single female; 6) dorsum with five stripes, three median stripes from parietals posteriorly to the tip of the tail anteriorly, one pair of stripes from the nostrils to the posterior of the tail; 7) temporal scale arrangement 2+2 on both sides; 8) nasal scale divided, nostril situated between two nasals, anterior nasal touching 2nd supralabial. (Chen et al. 2021).

Comparisons: Psammophis turpanensis is distinct from P. lineolatus by the following differences: larger number of ventrals (209 vs. 181−192 in seven specimens); anterior portion of nasal touching 2nd supralabial (vs. reaching first supralabial); greater and subtriangular head (HL/HW/HD: 23.15/12.84/9.02 vs. maximum 18.23/9.05/6.03, subrectangular); dorsum with three black-brown stripes starting from parietal termination and two dorsolateral stripes deriving from anterior nasal scale (vs. dorsum with two stripes tracing to supraoculars and two lateral stripes originating from behind the nostrils); no middle stripe on the head (vs. head with a dark median streak from the interorbital region to the occiput). Psammophis turpanensis differs from P. condanarus, P. indochinensis, P. schokari, P. longifrons and P. leithii by the following characters: nasal scale divided (vs. only partially divided in P. condanarus); frontal anteriorly twice as wide as at the midline (vs. frontal anteriorly not twice as wide as at the midline in P. condanarus); body black-brown vertebral stripe in a row that is three scales wide (vs. coffee-brown vertebral stripe five scales wide in P. condanarus, vertebral stripe lighter/absent or variable in P. indochinensis, 4 or uniformly dark with vertebral stripe light in P. schokari); higher number of ventrals (209 vs. 165−179 in P. condanarus, 156−173 in P. indochinensis, 162−194 in P. schokari, 161−167 in P. longifrons, 164−187 in P. leithii); 4th to 6th supralabials in contact with eyes (vs. 4th, 5th in P. condanarus, P. longifrons, P. leithii; and 5th, 6th in P. schokari); preocular not in contact with frontal (vs. reaching in P. condanarus and P. leithii); anal scale divided (vs. anal entire in P. leithii); nostril pierced between 2 nasals, anterior nasal touching 2nd supralabial (vs. nostril pierced between one anterior and two superposed posterior nasals in P. longifrons). In addition, the other five species except for P. lineolatus are not distributed in China, with non-overlapping geographic distribution between them and P. turpanensis. (Chen et al. 2021).

Color in life: Dorsum with three black-brown stripes that extend from parietal extremity to the tail end, each stripe consisting of a series of black dots (surrounded by four dorsal scales) and brown dots. Laterally, the outermost part of ventral and the first two dorsal scale rows form dorsolateral stripes that derive from the anterior nasal scale. Ventral-lateral white, pale yellow in the middle; each ventral with a black dash on each side forming a ventro-lateral stippled line. Top of the head with longitudinal and irregular dark brown stripes, one stripe as long as the frontal which forks in parietal and combines with two stripes from supraocular and extends to parietal posterior; orange and black spots on labia, chin and the scale rows of neck. (Chen et al. 2021). 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality — Aydingkol Lake, located in the Turpan Basin. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported species from the lowest elevation of the type locality in terrestrial animals. 
  • CHEN, M., LIU, J., CAI, B., LI, J., WU, N., & GUO, X. 2021. A new species of Psammophis (Serpentes: Psammophiidae) from the Turpan Basin in northwest China. Zootaxa 4974 (1), 116-134 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Zhao E. M. 1998. Fauna Sinica, Reptilia, Vol. 3, Squamata: Serpentes. Science Press (In Chinese)
  • Zhao, E.M. 2006. The snakes of China [in Chinese]. Hefei, China, Anhui Sience & Technology Publ. House, Vol. I, 372 pp., Vol. II (color plates), 280 pp.
  • Zhao,E. & Adler,K. 1993. Herpetology of China. SSAR, Oxford/Ohio, 1-522
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