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Sinomicrurus houi WANG, PENG & HUANG, 2018

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesHou’s coral snake
Chinese: 海南华珊瑚蛇 (Hǎi Nán Huá Shān Hú Shé) 
SynonymSinomicrurus houi WANG, PENG & HUANG in PENG et al. 2018
Calliophis kelloggi — ZHAO 1990: 359.
Calliophis kelloggi — CHU & HUANG, 1990: 152.
Calliophis kelloggi — ZHAO & ADLER 1993: 265.
Calliophis kelloggi — ZHAO 1998: 342
Calliophis kelloggi — SHI & MENG 2001: 83
Calliophis kelloggi — JI & WEN 2002: 236.
Calliophis kelloggi — ZHAO 2004: 329
Sinomicrurus kelloggi — ZHAO 2006: 297.
Sinomicrurus kelloggi — SHI, ZHAO & WANG 2011: 259, Plates XXIV-128
Sinomicrurus kelloggi — WANG 2014: 119 
DistributionChina (Hainan island)

Type locality: forest edge on a path near a gutterway at the side of Tianchi Lake, Jianfengling NNR, Hainan island, Hainan, China (108°46′ E, 18°39′ N; 805 m elevation; Figure 4 in Peng et al. 2018).  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: HSU (also as HUM) 20170001 (Figures 1, 2), adult male, collected by Lijun WANG and Mian HOU on 17 Jun 2010, and deposited in the Museum of Huangshan University. Paratypes: Re5410, adult male, and CIB108251, adult female, from the same locality as the holotype, collected on 25 Mar 2011 by Lijun WANG and Mian HOU. The former deposited in the Shanghai Natural History Museum, the latter deposited in the Herpetological Museum of Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. HUM20170004, adult female, collected in the Diaoluoshan NNR, Hainan Island, Hainan, China (109°54′ E, 18°41′ N; 726 m a.s.l.) on 9 Jul 2012 by Yiwu ZHU. The specimen is deposited in the Museum of Huangshan University. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov. differs from the known five congeners by a combination of the following characters: 1) dorsal scale rows (DSC) 15: 15: 15, smooth throughout; 2) ventrals (VL) 173–183; 3) subcaudals (SC) 27–38; 4) head relatively elongated, head length (HL) 2.0–2.1 times as long as head width (HW); 5) no loreal; 6) supralabials (SL) 7/7, infralabials (IL) 7/7; 7) dorsal surface scarlet, with 16–19 edged yellowish black bands on trunk of body, 2–4 on tail; 8) numbers of ventral spots 34–42; 9) dorsum of head having a narrow white broadwise band in the forefront of head (covering almost all the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th supralabials, preoculars, and continuing through forefront prefrontals) and two symmetric white stripes appearing a Chinese symbol for the figure eight (“八”, from both sides of frontal to neck sides and gradually widening); 10) maxillary teeth behind the fangs present.

Variation The variation in measurement is given in Table 1 in Peng et al. 2018. The holotype and the paratypes are similar in general aspects.

Comparisons Based from morphology analysis, the genus Sinomicrurus have three species groups, the S. macclellandi, S. kelloggi and S. japonicus groups.
The S. macclellandi group species differs from the S. kelloggi group species by having 13 scale rows on the body, ventrals 195–241, subcaudals 25–46, 1 + 1 temporals, 6/6 infralabials, with (S. m. macclellandi, S. m. iwasakii, S. m. swinhoei) or without (S. m. gorei, S. m. univirgatus) black rings, the broader band on the head shaped in curve (S. m. macclellandi, S. m. iwasakii, S. m. univirgatus) or straight with irregular border (S. m. gorei,S. m. swinhoei), with a black vertebral stripe and the transverse bars restricted to the sides of the body or totally absent (S. m. univirgatus), having a pair black spots or one irregular spot between the black rings (Günther, 1858, 1964, 1968; Mell, 1929; Nakamura and Ueno, 1963; Orlov et al., 2003; Reinhardt, 1844; Shang et al., 2009; Shi et al., 2011; Smith, 1943; Stejneger, 1907; Wall, 1910, 1913, 1923; Zhao, 1998, 2004, 2006).
The above characters refer to S. kelloggi which has 15 scale rows on the body, ventrals 154–202, subcaudals 27–38, 1 + 2 temporals, 6/6 (S. kelloggi) or 7/7 (S. houi sp. nov.) infralabials, with black rings, the broader band on head shaped like “V” (S. kelloggi) or “ 八 ” (S. houi sp. nov.), without any black vertebral stripe or any spots which between the black rings (Günther, 1858, 1964, 1968; Mell, 1929; Orlov et al., 2003; Pope, 1928; Shi et al., 2011; Smith, 1943; Zhao, 1998, 2004, 2006).
The S. japonicus species group can be distinguished from the S. macclellandi group and S. kelloggi by a combination of characters: 13 (S. hatori, S. japonicus) or 15 (S. sauteri) scale rows on body, ventrals 196–269, subcaudals 28–31, 1 + 1 temporals, 6/6 (S. hatori, S. sauteri) or 7/7 (S. japonicus) infralabials. On the body they do not have rings (S. sauteri, S. j. takarai), have short whitish lateral band (S. hatori), only have black rings (S. j. japonicus) or have black rings with fresh white borders (S. j. boettger), the broader band on head is absent (S. japonicus) or there is a straight whitish band with irregular anterior border, with three (S. hatori, S. sauteri), five (S. j. japonicas [intermittently on lateral], S. j. boettgeri [completely]) or seven (S. j. takarai) black longitudinal stripes on the body (Nakamura and Ueno, 1963; Orlov et al., 2003; Shang et al., 2009; Steindachner, 1913; Stejneger, 1907; Takahashi, 1930; Zhao, 1998, 2004, 2006).
Sinomicrurus houi sp. nov. differs from S. kelloggi by the following characters: 1. dorsum of head with a narrow white broadwise band in the forefront of the head (covering almost all the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th supralabials, preoculars, and continuing through forefront prefrontals) and two symmetric white stripes appearing a Chinese symbol for the figure eight (“ 八 ”, from both sides of frontal to neck sides and gradually widening); 2. a longer head (HL/HW is 2.02–2.10 vs. 1.35–1.45); 3. a higher number of infralabials (7/7 vs. 6/6); 4. the fourth infralabial distinct larger than the fifth as opposed to almost equal; 5. a smaller number of bands on dorsal (16– 19 vs. 19–24); 6. a smaller number of spots on ventral side (34–42 vs. 43–55); 7. the ground color is scarlet as opposed to brownish red (Günther, 1858, 1964, 1968; Mell, 1929; Orlov et al., 2003; Pope, 1928; Shi et al., 2011; Smith, 1943; Zhao, 1998, 2004, 2006). 
CommentBehavior: nocturnal

Habitat: terrestrial, in the forest floor of montane rain forest, usually hidden in deciduous or humic layers very close to streams or ditches.

Diet: primarily small snakes and the juveniles of snakes which live in the same habitats, such as Indotyphlops braminus, Argyrophis diardii, Hebius popei and H. boulengeri etc., presumably they also prey on grass lizards and skinks, and may also feed on the sleeping juveniles of Acanthosaura lepidogaster and Pseduocalotes microlepis resting on the roots of bushwoods. In captivity, they catch actively and feed on juveniles of Dinodon rufozonatum (Figure 5), Xenochrophis flavipunctatus, Pantherophis guttatus and skinks). 
EtymologyThe species name is a patronym honoring Mian HOU (Sichuan Normal University, China), a modern herpetological enthusiast and naturalist. He has been contributing substantially to the taxonomy and life history of amphibians and reptiles for 20 years. He collected 3 of the 4 type specimens. 
References
  • Chu Y. Z., Huang Q. Y. 1990. The herpetofauna of Jianfengling, Hainan, China. Pp. 150–152. In Jiang Y. M. (Ed.) 1992. A Collection of Papers on Herpetology. Chengdu Institute of Biology, Academia Sinica, Chengdu, China
  • Ji D. M., Wen S. S. 2002. Atlas of reptiles of China. (In Chinese) Zhengzhou, China: Henan science and Technology Press
  • PENG, Lifang; Lijun WANG; Li DING; Yiwu ZHU; Jian LUO; Diancheng YANG; Ruyi HUANG; Shunqing LU; and Song HUANG 2018. A New Species of the Genus Sinomicrurus Slowinski, Boundy and Lawson, 2001 (Squamata: Elapidae) from Hainan Province, China. Asian Herpetological Research 9 (2): 65-73. [doi:10.16373/j.cnki.ahr.170090] - get paper here
  • Shi H. T., Meng J. L. 2001. A guid to Hainan terrestrial vertebrate. Hainan Publishing House (In Chinese)
  • Shi H. T., Zhao E. M., Wang L. J. 2011. Herpetofauna of Hainan. (In Chinese) Science Press
  • Wang J. C. 2014. Wild vertebrate in Diaoluoshan, Hainan, China. China Forestry Publishing House, Beijing, China
  • Zhao E. M. 1990. Herpetofauna and zoogeography of Hainan Island. Pp. 354–363. In Zhao E. M. 1990. From water onto land-A Festschrift of Dr. Cheng-chao Liu for his Birth 90th Anniversary. China. Beijing, China: Forestry Publishing House (In Chinese with English abstract)
  • Zhao E. M. 1998. Fauna Sinica, Reptilia, Vol. 3, Squamata: Serpentes. Science Press (In Chinese)
  • Zhao E. M. 2004. An eight-month survey of reptiles on Hainan Island. Sichuan Journal of Zoology 24 (3): 323–329
  • 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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