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Achalinus tranganensis LUU, ZIEGLER, HA, LO, HOANG, NGO, LE, TRAN & NGUYEN, 2020

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Higher TaxaXenodermidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Trang An Burrowing Snake
Vietnamese: Rắn xe điếu tràng an 
SynonymAchalinus tranganensis LUU, ZIEGLER, HA, LO, HOANG, NGO, LE, TRAN & NGUYEN 2020 
DistributionN Vietnam (Ninh Binh)

Type locality: limestone forest (20°15.266’N, 105°53.677’E, 9 m a.s.l.), near Tran Temple, Trang An Landscape Complex, Ninh Binh Province, northern Vietnam  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. VNUF R.2018.21 (field number TA.18.21), adult female, collected by V.Q. Luu, O.V. Lo, N.T. Nguyen on 31 May 2018. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Achalinus tranganensis sp. nov is characterized by the following combination of morphological characters: 1) maxillary teeth 29; 2) suture between the internasals distinctly longer than that between the prefron- tals; 3) loreal distinctly wider than high, extending from the nasal to the eye; 4) dorsal scales in 25–23–23 rows, keeled; 5) two pairs of prefrontals; 6) supralabials six; 7) infralabials six; 8) temporals 2+3, the two anterior tempo- rals in contact with eye; 9) ventrals 171; 10) subcaudals 73+, entire; 11) cloacal entire; 12) dorsum in preservative reddish to greyish brown above; 13) the lower part of head side and chin region somewhat paler than remaining head; 14) venter greyish cream, with the anterior region of each ventral and subcaudal somewhat darker.

Colouration in life. Dorsum iridescent reddish to greyish brown; underside of head light brown; venter greyish cream; under tail dark brown.

Comparisons. The condition of the prefrontals being arranged in two pairs is unique in Achalinus and thus distinguishes the new species from all other congeners and thus is not repeated in the detailed comparisons in the following. At first glance, Achalinus tranganensis sp. nov. resembles A. juliani in color pattern and dorsal scale- row formula. However, A. tranganensis can be distinguished from A. juliani by having fewer ventrals in the female (171 versus 179); from A. ater by having more anterior temporals (3 versus 2), more dorsal scale rows anteriorly (25 versus 23 or 21), and more subcaudals (73+ versus 47–70); from A. emilyae by having more infralabials (6 versus 5), more posterior temporals (3 versus 2), more dorsal scale rows anteriorly (25 versus 23), more ventrals (171 versus 157–161), and more subcaudals (73+ versus 63); from A. formosanus by having more maxillary teeth (29 versus 14–17), the internasal suture distinctly longer than prefrontal suture (versus internasal suture almost as long as prefrontal suture), the loreal unfused with prefrontal (versus fused), fewer dorsal scale rows (25–23–23 versus 25–29– 25–27–25), more posterior temporals (3 versus 2), and lacking a black mid-dorsal line; from A. jinggangen- sis Zong & Ma, 1983 by having more maxillary teeth (29 versus 22), loreal unfused with prefrontal (versus fused), more posterior temporals (3 versus 2), more ventrals (171 versus 156–164), and more subcaudals (73+ versus 51–64); from A. hainanus Huang, 1975 by having more infralabials (6 versus 5), more temporals (2+3 versus 1+2), more dorsal scale rows anteriorly (25 versus 23), more ventrals (171 versus 165–168), and more subcaudals (73+ versus 67–69); from A. meiguensis by having more maxillary teeth (29 versus 17), more dorsal scale rows anteriorly and posteriorly (25 versus 21 or 23; 23 versus 19, respectively), and more subcaudals (73+ versus 39–62); from A. niger by having the internasal suture being distinctly longer than that between the prefrontals (versus almost as long as or shorter), fewer midbody scale rows (23 versus 25), more subcaudals in females (73 versus 52–58), and keeled dorsal scales (versus smooth on anterior part of body); from A. pingbianensis by having the loreal unfused with prefrontal (versus fused), more dorsal scale rows anteriorly (25 versus 23), more ventrals (171 versus 164+2), and more subcaudals (73+ versus 56); from A. rufescens by having more infralabials (6 versus 5), more posterior temporals (3 versus 2), more ventrals in females (171 versus 148–158), and more subcaudals (73+ versus 54–61); from A. spinalis by having more maxillary teeth (29 versus 16–20), the internasal suture being distinctly longer than that between the prefrontals (versus as long as or shorter), more posterior temporals (3 versus 2), more dorsal scale rows anteriorly (25 versus 21–24), and more subcaudals (73 versus 39–67); from Achalinus timi by having the loreal unfused with prefrontal (versus fused), more posterior temporals (3 versus 2), and fewer scale rows at midbody (23 versus 25); from A. werneri by the internasal suture being distinctly longer than that between the prefrontals (versus almost as long as), having more posterior temporals (3 versus 2), and by lacking a black mid-dorsal line; from A. yunkaiensis by having more maxillary teeth (29 versus 20–22), the internasal suture being distinctly longer than that between the prefrontals (versus as long as), more posterior temporals (3 versus 1), more dorsal scale rows anteriorly (25 versus 23), more ventrals (171 versus 151–162), and more subcaudals (73+ versus 38–56). 
CommentSympatry: Lycodon futsingensis, L. subcinctus, Oligodon chinensis. 
EtymologyNamed after its type locality, the Trang An Landscape Complex, where the new Achalinus was discovered. 
References
  • LUU, VINH QUANG; THOMAS ZIEGLER, NGHIA VAN HA, OANH VAN LO, TUOI THI HOANG, HANH THI NGO, MINH DUC LE, DUNG HOANG TRAN, TRUONG QUANG NGUYEN 2020. A new species of Achalinus (Squamata: Xenodermidae) from Trang An Landscape Complex, Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. Zootaxa 4877 (1): 174–184 - get paper here
 
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