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Ahaetulla anomala (ANNANDALE, 1906)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Ahaetuliinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymDryophis mycterizans var. anomalus ANNANDALE 1906
Dryophis mycterizans lepidorostralis WALL 1908 (fide SMITH 1943)
Dryophis mycterizans lepidorostralis WALL 1910 [nomen nudum fide Wall 1910]
Passerita purpurascens — ANDERSON 1871 [in part]
Ahaetulla pulverulenta — DASGUPTA & RAHA 2004
Ahaetulla pulverulenta — DENZAU & DENZAU 2010
Ahaetulla anomala — MOHAPATRA et al 2017 

Type locality: Santragachi, Howrah district, West Bengal, India  
Reproductionovoviviparous (5-15 live offspring) 
TypesHolotype: ZSI (ZSIK) 15463 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Ahaetulla anomala has characters of the rear-fanged genus Ahaetulla (Smith 1943). Its prominent, longer dermal appendage distinguishes it from other species of Ahaetulla found in India and Sri Lanka except A. nasuta and A. pulverulenta. Morphologically A. anomala differs from all forms of A.nasuta in having its dermal appendage covered by many small scales above (vs. dermal appendage formed by rostral scale only); it has a dark rhomboidal pattern on the dorsal surface of the head (vs. no dorsal head marking); in A. anomala the asulcate side of hemipenis has 3–5 nude grooves (vs. 5–7 in A. nasuta Odisha population).
Though the brown colour forms (adult females) of A. anomala are superficially similar to A. pulverulenta, it differs from the latter in: length of dermal appendage shorter than horizontal eye diameter (vs. always longer in adults); sexual dichromatism- body colouration of adult males are green and females brown (vs. always brown or greyish- brown); dorsal scales at one head length before vent – 11 rows, rarely 13 in females and 9 in males (vs. mostly in 13 rows). The hemipenis of A. anomala also differs in structure from that of A. pulverulenta (Western Ghats specimens) in bearing 5–6 large spines on the asulcate side (vs. 8–9 large spines) [MOHAPATRA et al 2017] 
CommentSynonymy: after Mohapatra et al. 2017. Dryophis mycterizans var. anomalus has been listed as a synonym of Ahaetulla nasuta, e.g. by Wallach et al. 2014: 20. Passerita purpurascens Günther, 1864 is a junior synonym of Ahaetulla pulverulenta (see Theobald 1868, 1876 & Anderson 1871, Mohapatra et al. 2017). Passerita GRAY 1825 is a junior objective synonym of Ahaetulla LINK 1807 and was proposed to be put on the Offiial Index of Rejected and invalid generic names in Zoology by Savage and Oliver 1957.

Sexual dichromatism. Various authors have mentioned polymorphism in ground colour in snakes such as Boiga forsteni, Sonora semiannulata and Psammophis schokari (Mohapatra et al. 2009; Cox 2012; Hussain & Hussain 2013). In a recent publication, Cox and Chippindale (2014) suggested that despite dramatic color polymorphism in Sonora semiannulata, phenotypic diversity is not a major driver of genetic diversity within or among populations. Similarly Ahaetulla anomala shows colour polymorphism and has a gradient of green and brown colours. As stated earlier, adult males of this species are green coloured and adult females are brown in colour. Among the specimens examined, the greyish-green coloured individual is a juvenile male and the greyish brown individual is a juvenile female. These intermediate colours could be an artefact of ontogenic colour change (See Deepak et al. 2010). Sexual dichromatism is rare among snakes and until now documented in some groups such as vipers (Vipera, Bothrops) (Shine & Madsen 1994; Lindell & Forsman 1996; Marques & Sazima 2003; de Freitas et al. 2014), Comoran snake (Lycodryas) (Hawlitschek et al. 2012) and Malagasy leaf-nosed snakes Langaha madagascariensis (Krysko 2003). Ahaetulla anomala is therefore the first report of sexually dichromatic snake from the Indian subcontinent [MOHAPATRA et al 2017].

Distribution: see map in Deepak e al. 2019: 499 (Fig. 1). 
  • Anderson, J. 1871. A list of the reptilian accession to the Indian Museum, Calcutta, from 1865 to 1870, with a description of some new species. J. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, Calcutta, 40, part 11(1): 12-39. - get paper here
  • Annandale, Nelson 1906. Notes on the fauna of a desert tract in southern India. Part. I. Batrachians and reptiles, with remarks on the reptiles of the desert region of the North-West Frontier. Mem asiatic Soc Bengal Calcutta 1: 183-202 - get paper here
  • Dasgupta, G. & Raha, S. 2004. Reptilia. In: State Fauna. Fauna of Bihar (including Jharkhand), Series 11, Part 1: 143– 179
  • Deepak, V., Narayanan, S., Sarkar, V., Dutta, S. K. & Mohapatra, P. P. 2019. A new species of Ahaetulla Link, 1807 (Serpentes: Colubridae: Ahaetullinae) from India. J. Nat. Hist. 53: 497–516 - get paper here
  • Khate, D. 2020. Predation by an Ahaetulla nasuta (Lacépède, 1789) (Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae) on a Uropeltis macrolepis mahableshwarensis Chari, 1955 from Mahableshwar, Maharashtra, India. Sauria 42 (1): 75-76
  • MOHAPATRA, PRATYUSH P.; S. K. DUTTA, NILADRI B. KAR, ABHIJIT DAS, B. H. C.K MURTHY, V. DEEPAK 2017. Ahaetulla nasuta anomala (Annandale, 1906) (Squamata: Colubridae), resurrected as a valid species with marked sexual dichromatism. Zootaxa 4263 (2): 318-332 [erratum in Zootaxa, 4290(3): 600] - get paper here
  • Neumann-Denzau, Gertrud and Helmut Denzau 2010. The Brown vine snake Ahaetulla pulverulenta (Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854) in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh – first record from the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. Herpetology Notes 3: 271- 272
  • Smith, M.A. 1943. The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including the Whole of the Indo-Chinese Sub-Region. Reptilia and Amphibia. 3 (Serpentes). Taylor and Francis, London. 583 pp.
  • Wall, F. 1910. Varieties of the common Green Whip Snake (Dryophis mycterizans). J. Bombay nat. Hist. Soc. 20: 524 - get paper here
  • Wall,F. 1910. Remarks on the varieties and distribution of the common Green Whip Snake (Dryophis mycterizans). J. Bombay nat. Hist. Soc. 20: 229 - get paper here
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