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Achalinus panzhihuaensis HOU, WANG, GUO, CHEN, YUAN & CHE, 2021

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Higher TaxaXenodermidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Panzhihua Odd-scaled Snake
Chinese: 攀枝 花脊蛇 (Pinyin: Pan Zhi Hua Ji She) 
SynonymAchalinus panzhihuaensis HOU, WANG, GUO, CHEN, YUAN & CHE 2021: 535 
DistributionChina (Sichuan)

Type locality: Hongbao Village (27.00°N, 101.53°E), Yanbian County, Panzhihua, Sichuan Province, China.  
TypesHolotype. KIZ 040189, adult male, collected by Benfu Miao and Kai Wang on 10 May 2018. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Achalinus panzhihuaensis sp. nov. can be distinguished from recognized congeners by a combination of the following characters: (1) TaL/ToL 24.6% in the single male; (2) two nasal scales in contact with each other behind the rostral; (3) internasal absent; (4) loreal rectangular; (5) supralabials 6; (6) postocular single and small; (7) temporals 2+2+3, anterior pair elongated, upper one smaller, only uppermost in contact with eye; (8) infralabials 6; (9) mental in contact with first pair of chin shields, fully separating first pair of infralabials; (10) dorsal scales 23–23–19 rows; (11) ventrals 160; (12) subcaudals 73, unpaired; (13) precloacal scale entire; (14) maxillary teeth 28; and (15) all scales iridescent with metallic luster, brown dorsally, with single indigo-colored vertebral line.

Coloration: In life, all scales are weakly iridescent with metallic luster. Dorsum is purplish brown. The vertebral and three paravertebral rows of dorsal scales are darker indigo, which form a darker longitudinal vertebral stripe extending from the posterior margin of the parietals to the tip of tail. Ventral surface of the body is greyish white, and the subcaudal region is purplish brown.
In preservative, all scales are still iridescent. Coloration becomes darker after preservation. The dorsum becomes dark grey, and the vertebral stripe turns black. The ventral surface of the body becomes greyish brown, and the ventral tail is dark greyish brown.

Comparisons. A. panzhihuaensis sp. nov. is most similar to its sister species A. meiguensis, in which both species have divided nasal scales in contact with each other, no internasal, a single postocular, 6 supralabials, 6 infralabials, mental in contact with first pair of chin shields, and fully separated first pair of infralabials. However, the new species can be diagnosed readily from A. meiguensis by having more subcaudals (SC 73 vs. 39–60), more ventrals in male (VEN 160 vs. 146–155), and more DSRM (23 vs. 19–21) (Table 4).
Achalinus panzhihuaensis sp. nov. can be easily distinguished from A. ater, A. emilyae, A. formosanus Boulenger, A. hainanus Huang, A. jinggangensis Zong & Ma, A. juliani, A. niger Mahi, A. pingbianensis Li, Yu, Wu, Liao, Tang, Liu & Guo, A. rufescens Boulenger, A. spinalis Peters, A. tranganensis Luu, Ziegler, Ha, Lo, Hoang, Ngo, Le, Tran & Nguyen, A. timi, A. yunkaiensis, A. werneri Van Denburgh and A. zugorum Miller, Davis, Luong, Do, Pham, Ziegler, Lee, De Queiroz, Reynolds & Nguyen, by having divided nasal scales in contact each other behind the rostral (vs. separated), mental in contact with the first pair of chin shields (vs. separated), first pair of infralabials separated from each other (vs. in contact), as well as an absence of internasal (vs. present), and by the presence of a small postocular (vs. absent). Furthermore, the new species differs from A. jinggangensis, A. pingbianensis, A. timi and A. formosanus by having loreal separated from prefrontal (vs. fused); and from A. emilyae, A. hainanus and A. rufecens by having more infralabials (6 vs. 5). 
CommentDistribution: see Hou et al. 2021: 529 (Fig. 1) for a map. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet “panzhihuaensis” is named after the type locality of the new species, Panzhihua, Sichuan Province, China. 
  • HOU, S. B., WANG, K., GUO, P., CHEN, J. M., YUAN, Z. Y., & CHE, J. 2021. Two new species and a new country record of the genus Achalinus (Reptilia: Squamata: Xenodermidae) from China. Zootaxa, 4950 (3): 528-546 - get paper here
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