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Stichophanes ningshaanensis (YUAN, 1983)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesNingshaan Kukri Snake, Ningshan line-shaped snake 
SynonymOligodon ningshaanensis YUAN 1983
Oligodon ningshaanensis — ZHAO 2006: 232
Oligodon ningshaanensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 490
Stichophanes ningshaanensis — WANG et al. 2014 
DistributionChina (S Shaanxi, Hubei)

Type locality: "Huoditang, Ningshan County, Shaanxi, China, alt. 1650 m." [=Huoditang, Ningshan County, southern Shaanxi Province, central China, 33˚29'N, 108˚27'E, 1650 m].  
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesHolotype: NCF 81028, adult male (= Northwest Forestry College, 30 July 1982). WANG et al. 2014 say that the type specimens have been lost. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): No similarity with any other Old World Colubridae species. Small terrestrial colubrid. Head blunt, pupil of eye round, neck distinguishable from head, body slender. All 9 large shields present on the dorsal head, loreal absent, preocular 1, postocular 2, temporal 1+2 (Figure 7 B), rostral broad, supralabial 6, 3rd and 4th entering the eye, infralabial 6, 4th the largest, sublingual 2 pairs, mental groove inconspicuous. Body scales smooth, 13 dorsal rows throughout the trunk, ventrals 159–170, anal divided, subcaudals 64–73 pairs.
The species exhibits sexual dimorphism, both in size and color. Males are shorter as adults with a longer tail (24% to 27% of the total body length), and dorsal color olive to brown in life. Females are longer with a shorter tail (21% of the total body length), and dorsal color is yellowish-brown in life (Figure 7 A). Preserved specimens are dark bluish brown in formalin. Head darker, from which originate two dark lines extending on 4th rows of dorsals (D4) throughout the body and tail, other two thin dark lateral lines from neck to vent located between D1 and D2. At the posterior head a large elongated dark spot fades along the central dorsal row (Figure 7 A and D). Belly pale yellow with two lines of black little dots forming ventral dashed stripes (Figure 7 C).
Hemipenis bilobed, semicapitate and semicalyculate, with deeply forked sulcus spermaticus and large lateral spines. Maxillary teeth 5 or 6. This species is oviparous, laying between 8–9 eggs in a clutch. 
CommentDiet: snails

Type species: Oligodon ningshaanensis YUAN 1983 is the type species of the genus Stichophanes WANG et al. 2014.

Alex Pyron (pers. comm., 26 Sep 2014) thinks that the assignment to a new genus is preliminary, based on the poorly supported molecular phylogeny. 
Etymology 
References
  • Messenger KR, Wang Y. 2015. Notes on the natural history and morphology of the Ningshan Lined Snake (Stichophanes ningshaanensis yuen, 1983; Ophidia: Colubridae) and its distribution in the Shennongjia National Nature Reserve, China. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 9 (2): 111–119 - 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.
  • WANG, Xiaohe; Kevin MESSENGER, Ermi ZHAO, Chaodong ZHU 2014. Reclassification of Oligodon ningshaanensis Yuan, 1983 (Ophidia: Colubridae) into a New Genus, Stichophanes gen. nov. with Description on Its Malacophagous Behavior. Asian Herpetological Research 5 (3): 137–149 - get paper here
  • Yuan H 1983. A new species of the genus Oligodon from Shaanxi, China. Acta Herpetologica Sinica 2 (2): 65-67 - get paper here
  • 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.
 
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