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Ahaetulla malabarica MALLIK, SRIKANTHAN, PAL, D’SOUZA, SHANKER & GANESH, 2020

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Ahaetuliinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymAhaetulla malabarica MALLIK, SRIKANTHAN, PAL, D’SOUZA, SHANKER & GANESH 2020: 30 
DistributionIndia (N Kerala, S Karnataka)

Type locality: Thirunelli forest (11.9172 N 75.99111E, 960 msl), Brahmagiri-Wayanad hill complex of the Central Western Ghats, in Peninsular India.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. BNHS 3586 (CESS090); adult male; Thirunelli forest, Brahmagiri, Wayanad, Kerala; Coll. Ashok Kumar Mallik, 2010.
Paratypes. BNHS 3587 (CESS087); adult female; Kalpetta, Kerala, Coll. Saunak P. Pal, S. P. Vijayakumar & Mrugank Prabhu, 2010. 
DiagnosisA species of Ahaetulla characterised by a short rostral appendage (vs. long in A. oxyrhyncha comb. nov.; A. laudankia; vs. multi-scaled rostral appendage in A. pulverulenta, A. sahyadrensis nom. nov., A. anomala); possessing white ventrolateral stripe (vs. lacking in A. pulverulenta, A. sahyadrensis nom. nov.); possessing 6 prediastemal and 7 postdiastemal maxillary teeth (vs. 7 and 9 in A. isabellina comb. nov. vs. 6 and 11 in A. farnsworthi sp. nov., vs. 6 and 8 in A. borealis sp. nov., vs. 7 and 7 in A. oxyrhyncha comb. nov.). At higher elevations of the Nilgiri hill complex, this species differs from the potentially allopatric congener A. perroteti by possessing 167–183 ventrals (vs. 136–146 in A. perroteti), 124–155 subcaudals (vs. 70–86 in A. perroteti) and usually green body, sometimes polymorphic in colouration in both sexes (vs. usually grey-brown in A. sahyadrensis nom. nov.; adult females brownish in A. dispar and A. perroteti) (Fig. 15, Table 2).

Colour in life. Dorsum uniform bright green; rostral, infralabials, venter bright green to lighter green in mid body; some infralabials with small white patches; yellow ventral stripe along notched ventral keels from a few scale rows after the nape; slight discolouration in the pre-ocular; inter-scalar white with black and white anteriorly-converging bars, white becoming uniform pinkish posteriorly; golden yellow eyes with black speckles; concentration of black speckles both in the anterior and posterior ends of a horizontal pupil and a slight discolouration around the pupil; tail and subcaudals green. 
CommentDistribution: See map in Mallik et al. 2020: 14 (Fig. 4). 
EtymologyLatin, for an inhabitant of Malabar (a historical name given for provinces in North Kerala), in allusion to its distribution in that part of the Western Ghats, just north of the Palghat Gap. 
References
  • MALLIK, A. K., SRIKANTHAN, A. N., PAL, S. P., D’SOUZA, P. M., SHANKER, K., & GANESH, S. R. 2020. Disentangling vines: a study of morphological crypsis and genetic divergence in vine snakes (Squamata: Colubridae: Ahaetulla) with the description of five new species from Peninsular India. Zootaxa 4874 (1): 1-62 - get paper here
 
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