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Spalerosophis atriceps (FISCHER, 1885)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Diadem Snake, Royal Snake
G: Pakistanische Diademnatter 
SynonymZamenis diadema var. atriceps FISCHER 1885: 102
Spalerosophis atriceps — MINTON 1966
Spalerosophis atriceps — KHAN 2002
Spalerosophis atriceps — SHARMA 2004
Spalerosophis atriceps — BAIG et a. 2007
Spalerosophis atriceps — WALLACH et al. 2014: 682
Spalerosophis atriceps— YADOLLAHVANDMIANDOAB et al. 2023 
DistributionIndia (incl. Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat, Punjab [Dino Aulakh, pers. comm.]), Nepal, Pakistan

Type locality: Himalaya  
Reproductionoviparous (not imputed, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: SMF 41134 (formerly NMBA 7796), a 1475 mm specimen (F. Krüger), fide Wallach et al. 2014:682 
DiagnosisDescription: Scales weakly keeled. Head distinctly broader than neck; snout rounded; eye has round pupil. Light yellowish-brown or orange with irregular blue-black or dark brown markings that look like "spattered tar" on tbe back. Head partly or fully jet-, blue-black, or wine red with blue-black patches. Neck often pale wine red. Underside glossy rose pink. Young have pale, even blotches without black markings. Single scale on snout tip (rostral) broader than high (in the Red-spotted Royal Snake [arenarius] this scale is much higher than its breadth) (from Withaker and Captain 2007: 146).

Coloration: variable, with substantial ontogenetic changes. Juveniles are clearly blotched dorsally which semi-adult or adults have irregular spots and blotches. See photos in Yadollahvandmiandoab et al. 2023. Hussain et al. (2023) described several color morphs within S. diadema. 
CommentSynonymy: Marx (1959), Mertens (1969), and Khan (2006) considered S. atriceps as a morph and synonym of S. d. diadema. On the other hand, Minton (1966), Baig and Masroor (2008), and Schatti et al. (2009) considered S. atriceps as a valid species. Yadollahvandmiandoab et al. 2022 found atriceps to be distinct from diadema though.

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

Distribution: For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013, Yadollahvandmiandoab at al. 2022: Fig. 3. 
  • Baig, Khalid J. and Rafaqat Masroor 2008. The snakes of the genus Spalerosophis Jan, 1865 in Indo-Pakistan and Iran (Squamata: Serpentes: Colubridae). Herpetozoa 20 (3/4): 109-115 [2007] - get paper here
  • Baig, KJ, Masroor, R., and Arshad, M. 2008. Biodiversity and ecology of the herpetofauna of Cholistan Desert, Pakistan. Russ. J. Herpetol. 15 (3): 193-205 - get paper here
  • Fischer, J. G. 1885. Ichthyologische und herpetologische Bemerkungen. V. Herpetologische Bemerkungen. Jahrb. Hamburg. Wiss. Anst. 2: 82-121 - get paper here
  • Harrington, Sean M; Jordyn M de Haan, Lindsey Shapiro, Sara Ruane 2018. Habits and characteristics of arboreal snakes worldwide: arboreality constrains body size but does not affect lineage diversification. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 125 (1): 61–71 - get paper here
  • Hussain S, Ahmad K, Shah AA 2023. A contribution to taxonomy and biology of Spalerosophis diadema diadema (Schlegel, 1837) along with a new record of Spalerosophis atriceps (Fischer, 1885) from the Poonch District of Jammu and Kashmir, India (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae). Herpetozoa 36: 41-52 - get paper here
  • Jamal, Qaisar; Muhammad Idrees, Saif Ullah, Muhammad Adnan, Farrah Zaidi, Qaiser Zaman, and Syed Basit Rasheed 2018. Diversity and Altitudinal Distribution of Squamata in Two Distinct Ecological Zones of Dir, A Himalayan Sub-Zone of Northern Pakistan. Pakistan J. Zool., vol. 50(5), pp 1835-1839 - get paper here
  • Kästle , W., Rai, K. & Schleich, H.H. 2013. FIELD GUIDE to Amphibians and Reptiles of Nepal. ARCO-Nepal e.V., 625 pp. - get paper here
  • Khan, M.S. 2002. Die Schlangen Pakistans [English edition as “A Guide to the snakes of Pakistan”]. Edition Chimaira (Frankfurt am Main), 265 pp. [review in HR 34: 400, Russ J Herp 12: 79] - get paper here
  • Kunz, K. 2015. Dauerbrenner im Terrarium: Nattern. Reptilia (Münster) 20 (115): 18-27 - get paper here
  • Mahabal, Anil and Sanjay Thakur 2014. INSTANCES OF ABERRANT COLORS AND PATTERNS AMONG THE INDIAN HERPETOFAUNA: A REVIEW. Russ. J. Herpetol. 21 (2): 80-88
  • Maheta, J., Thakor, R., Shankhala, P., Prajapati, D., Zala, A., Bharavad, L., ... & Patel, S. 2023. Updated checklist of snakes with the first record of Spalerosophis arenarius in Gujarat and range extensions of five fpecies of snakes in the northern region of Gujarat, India. Reptiles & Amphibians 30 (1): e18403 - get paper here
  • Masroor, R. 2012. A Contribution to the Herpetology of Northern Pakistan. SSAR, Ithaca [review in JoTT 4(6): 2670] - get paper here
  • Minton, S. A. Jr. 1966. A contribution to the herpetology of West Pakistan. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., 134: 29-184. - get paper here
  • Patel, Harshil; and Raju Vyas 2019. Reptiles of Gujarat, India: Updated Checklist, Distribution, and Conservation Status. Herpetology Notes 12: 765-777 - get paper here
  • Prerna, S., Baiju Raj, M. V., Ilayaraja, S., & Chaurasiya, M. 2021. A preliminary assessment of snakes and monitor lizards encountered during Covid-lockdown in Agra, India. The Science World 1(3): 34-41; - get paper here
  • Sahi D.N., Koul S. 2020. Annotated List of Amphibians and Reptiles of Jammu and Kashmir State. In: Dar G. & Khuroo A. (eds) Biodiversity of the Himalaya: Jammu and Kashmir State. Topics in Biodiversity and Conservation, vol 18. Springer, Singapore - get paper here
  • Saikia, U.; Sharma, D.K. & Sharma, R.M. 2007. Checklist of the Reptilian fauna of Himachal Pradesh, India. Reptile Rap (8): 6-9 - get paper here
  • Schätti, B.; Tillack, F. & Helfenberger, N. 2009. A contribution to Spalerosophis microlepis JAN 1865, with a short review of the genus and a key to the species (Squamata: Serpentes: Colubridae). Herpetozoa 22 (3/4): 115-135 - get paper here
  • Sharma, R. C. 2004. Handbook Indian Snakes. AKHIL BOOKS, New Delhi, 292 pp.
  • Sindaco, R.; Alberto Venchi & Cristina Grieco 2013. The Reptiles of the Western Palearctic, Volume 2: Annotated Checklist and Distributional Atlas of the Snakes of Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia, with an Update to Volume 1. Edizioni Belvedere, Latina (Italy), 543 pp. - get paper here
  • Singh J, Dutta S.K., Singh H 2021. Herpetofauna of Punjab: The Field Guide. New Era Book Agency, Chandigarh, 82 pp.
  • 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.
  • Whitaker, Romulus and Ashok Captain 2004. Snakes of India. Draco Books, 500 pp., reprinted 2007 - get paper here
  • Yadollahvandmiandoab, R., Bashirichelkasari, N., & Mesquita, D. O. 2023. Morphological characterization of some poorly known populations of the genus Spalerosophis Jan, 1865 (Reptilia: Colubridae): is the geometric morphometrics useful to identify them as taxonomic units? Zoology in the Middle East, 1-11 - get paper here
  • Yadollahvandmiandoab, R., Koroiva, R., Bashirichelkasari, N. & Daniel Oliveira Mesquita 2022. Phylogenetic relationships and divergence times of the poorly known genus Spalerosophis (Serpentes: Colubridae). Org Divers Evol (2022) - get paper here
  • Zimin, A., Zimin, S. V., Shine, R., Avila, L., Bauer, A., Böhm, M., Brown, R., Barki, G., de Oliveira Caetano, G. H., Castro Herrera, F., Chapple, D. G., Chirio, L., Colli, G. R., Doan, T. M., Glaw, F., Grismer, L. L., Itescu, Y., Kraus, F., LeBreton 2022. A global analysis of viviparity in squamates highlights its prevalence in cold climates. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 00, 1–16 - get paper here
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