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Azemiops kharini ORLOV, RYABOV & NGUYEN, 2013

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Azemiopinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: White-headed Fea Viper, White-headed Burmese viper
G: Weisskopf-Fea-Viper
Chinese: 白头蝰 
SynonymAzemiops kharini ORLOV, RYABOV & NGUYEN 2013: 119
Azemiops albocephala ORLOV, RYABOV & NGUYEN 2013: 112 
DistributionVietnam (Vinh Phuc, Cao Bang, Lang Son, Tam Dao Mountains), E China (E Yunnan, Guangxi, Guizhou, eastern Sichuan, Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Shaanxi), Laos

Type locality: Tam Dao Mountain, Tam Dao Village, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam; 900 m elevation.  
TypesHolotype: ZISP 26028, adult male, collected on 12 June 2003 by N. L. Orlov and S. A. Ryabov. Paratypes. 8 specimens: ZISP 20010, juv., Tam Dao Mountain, Tam Dao Village, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam; 750 – 900 m a.s.l., collected on October 1975 by Nguyen Van Sang; ZISP 22747 male, Tam Dao Mountain, Tam Dao Village, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam; 750 – 900 m a.s.l., collected on October 2001 by N. L. Orlov and S. A. Ryabov; ZISP 26806 female, Tam Dao Mountain, Tam Dao Village, Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam; 900 m a.s.l., collected on 13 June 2003 by N. L. Orlov and S. A. Ryabov; ZISP 26804 female, ZISP 26805 male, Thanh Cong village, Nguyen Binh district, Cao Bang Province, Vietnam, 1300 m a.s.l., collected on 15 – 17 June 2003 by N. L. Orlov and S. A. Ryabov; ZISP 26807 male, ZISP 26802 female, Quang Thanh village, Nguyen Binh district, Cao Bang Province, Vietnam, 1100 m a.s.l., collected on 18 – 21 June 2003 by N. L. Orlov and S. A. Ryabov; ZISP 26803 male, Mau Son, Loc Binh district, Lang Son Province, Vietnam, 820 m a.s.l., on 11 June 2006 by N. L. Orlov and S. A. Ryabov. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Viperid medium-sized snake of genus Azemiops, up to 980 mm in body length with a tail. The head is well demarcated from the body by neck interception, noticeably flattened, covered with symmetrical shields. Head has a trapezoidal shape with slightly rounded short snout. Nostril in a single nasal; loreal present; eye relatively small, with vertical pupil. The body is nearly round in cross-section, slightly flattened dorsoventrally, ventrals rounded. Scales smooth, in 17 rows around the middle of the body. Tail short; subcaudals in two rows. Ventrals 183 – 199; anal entire; subcaudals 49 – 51 pairs. Upper surface of head (from the prefrontals) white with two black vertical stripes. Pterygoideum with 14 teeth. Angulare very small, shorter than spleniale and much shorter than dentale. Dentale with 15 – 16 teeth. Quadratum long, directed downward and backward, and articulates with pterygoideum which bears 14 teeth. 186 – 201 trunk vertebrae, 46 – 51 caudal vertebrae. Hypopophyses developed on all trunk vertebrae, they are much shorter than the spinous processes. Parapophyses without long ventral processes. Parietale broadly rounded on the sides along its entire length, the greatest width is recorded in the back part of the bone without a median ridge.

A. kharini can be distinguished from A. feae by the shape of the basisphenoid (Fig. 5H) and the basioccipital (Fig. 6A). The basisphenoid of A. kharini has the same shape of the anterior part of this bone as in A. feae, but in A. kharini the bone is shorter, missing widened posterior part. The basiccipital of A. kharini has no tubercles on the anteroventral part, while in A. feae there are two tubercles there. In addition, A. kharini has lower medial process of the compound bone. [Snetkov & Orlov 2017]. 
CommentSimilar species: this species has been confused with A. feae although they are easy to distinguish by the color of their heads. A. kharini may be a color variant of A. feae. Teynié et al. (2017) found multiple specimens that combine characteristics of A. feae and A. kharini (i.e. they look like hybrids or intergrades), which suggests that the status of A. kharini needs to be revisited.

Synonymy: Orlov et al. used the name Azemiops albocephala in Figures 5 and 6 before they used the name A. kharini (in the rest of the manuscript starting in Figure 8). The authors probably wanted to name the species A. albocephala but then learned that Vladimir Kharin had passed, so they changed the name but not throughout the manuscript.

Phylogenetics: Li et al. 2020 found A. kharini to be nested within A.. feae, although they did not formally synonymized the two species.

Distribution: Very likely is the parapatry of these species in Yunnan, Sichuan and north Vietnam. Azemiops feae occurs to the west of the Red River (Sông HôÌng), and Azemiops kharini sp. nov. — to the east of the Red River. 
EtymologyThe species is named in honor of the untimely passed zoologist Vladimir Kharin, who made a great contribution to the study of the fauna of fish and reptiles, including snakes, in Asia. 
  • Balanov A. A., Zemnukhov V. V., Epur I. V., Parensky V. A., Pitruk D. L., Dolganov V. N., Savelyev P. A., Maslova I. V., Adnagulov E. V., Ananjeva N. B. 2014. VLADIMIR EMELYANOVICH KHARIN (1957 – 2013). Russ. J. Herpetol. 21 (1): 74 – 78
  • Li, J-N., Liang, D., Wang, Y-Y., Guo, P., Huang, S., Zhang, P. 2020. A Large-scale Systematic Framework of Chinese Snakes Based on a Unified Multilocus Marker System. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution - get paper here
  • Orlov, Nikolai L.; Sergei A. Ryabov, Tao Thien Nguyen 2013. On the Taxonomy and the Distribution of Snakes of the Genus Azemiops Boulenger, 1888: Description of a New Species. Russ. J. Herpetol. 20 (2): 110-128 [erratum in RJH 24 (2)] - get paper here
  • Snetkov, P. B.; N. L. Orlov 2017. Phylogenetic Analysis of Old World Viperid Snakes (Serpentes, Viperidae) Based on Skeletal Morphology. Russ. J. Herpetol. 24 (1): 22-34 - get paper here
  • Teynié, A., A. Lottier, R. David 2017. Azemiops feae Boulenger, 1888 (Squamata :Viperidae) et cinq autres additions notables pour la faune des serpents du Laos. Bull. Soc. Herp. France. (2017) 162 : 3-54
  • Wang, Kai; Jinlong Ren, Hongman Chen, Zhitong Lyu, Xianguang Guo Ke Jiang, Jinmin Chen, Jiatang Li, Peng Guo, Yingyong Wang, Jing Che 2020. The updated checklists of amphibians and reptiles of China. Biodiversity Science 28 (2): 189-218 - get paper here
  • Баланов, А. А.; В. В. Земнухов, И. В. Епур, В. А. Паренский, Д. Л. Питрук, В. Н. Долганов, П. А. Савельев, И. В. Маслова, Э. В. Аднагулов 2013. In commemoration of Vladimir E. Kharin (1957–2013). Current Studies in Herpetology 13 (3/4): 170–175 - get paper here
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