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Calamaria yunnanensis CHERNOV, 1962

IUCN Red List - Calamaria yunnanensis - Endangered, EN

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Calamariinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesChinese: 云南两头蛇
E: Yunnan reed snake 
SynonymCalamaria yunnanensis CHERNOV 1962
Calamaria yunnanensis — INGER & MARX 1965: 238 (”doubtful form”)
Calamaria yunnanensis — OTA 1982
Calamaria yunnanensis — YANG & INGER 1986
Calamaria yunnanensis — ZHAO & ADLER 1993
Calamaria yunnanensis — ZHAO 2006: 184
Calamaria yunnanensis — ORLOV et al. 2010
Calamaria yunnanensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 142 
DistributionChina (Yunnan), Laos

Type locality: Jingdong, Yunnan, China  
TypesHolotype: ZISP 17073 
DiagnosisLee 2021 provides morphological data on 6 specimens of Calamaria yunnanensis in his Table 3 as well as characters across all 9 species of Calamaria known from mainland SE Asia (Table 4).

Diagnosis: A species of Calamaria distinguished from all other members of the genus found in mainland Southeast Asia by having the following combination of morphological characters: (1) rostral scale wider than high; (2) portion of rostral scale visible from above less than half the length of the prefrontal suture; (3) six scales and shields surrounding the paraparietal scale; (4) absence of a preocular scale; (5) four supralabials, with the second and third touching the eye; (6) five or six infralabials, the first pair separating the mental scale from the anterior chin shields; (7) 167–184 ventrals in males, 199 in female, three gular scales; (8) 15–20 subcaudals in males, 19 in female, all paired; (9) dorsal colour pattern variable, usually bluish-grey or olive-brown with indistinct dark brown longitudinal stripes across each dorsal scale row forming a network-like pattern, sometimes restricted to the flanks; (10) ventral surface red or yellow usually with dark brown margins on the ventral scales and a black midventral stripe under the tail, completely immaculate in some specimens; and (11) a light yellow nuchal collar posterior to the head usually present, absent in some specimens. A summary of diagnostic characters and comparisons is given below and in Tables 3–4 (Lee 2021).

Coloration: Photographs of a live C. yunnanensis shown in Yang and Zheng (2018, fig. 4) and in Figure 1 offer some insight into the live colouration of this species. The specimen agrees with the colour pattern observed in KIZ 054176. However, the dorsum is predominately olive-brown, becoming dark grey-brown posteriorly, with well-defined dark brown longitudinal stripes across the body forming a network-like pattern on the dorsum. The venter in this specimen is a bright coral red, extending onto the lower flanks of the first two dorsal scale rows and on the labial region of the head and nostrils. A streak of red pigment forms a small marking posterior to the parietals but is too indistinct to be considered a nuchal collar, as it is nowhere near as pronounced as the markings present in other specimens. Red colouration may have been present on the ventral surface of other topotypic C. yunnanensis specimens and ROM 41547, but this pigment tends to fade quickly after preservation (Lee 2021). 
CommentSynonymy: Listed by INGER & MARX 1965 as a “doubtful form” since they were not able to study the holotype. Might be synonymous to C. pavimentata or C. septentrionalis. However, Lee 2021 redescribed and re-diagnosed the species and therefore established its validity. 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality. 
  • Chernov, S.A. 1962. On one still unknown snake of the genus Calamaria from You'nan [in Russian]. Zool. Inst. Acad. USSR, Trudy 30: 382-384
  • Inger, R. F. & H. MARX 1965. The systematics and evolution of the oriental colubrid snakes of the genus Calamaria. Fieldiana: Zoology 49: 1-304. - get paper here
  • Lee, Justin L. 2021. Description of a new species of Southeast Asian reed snake from northern Laos (Squamata: Colubridae: Genus Calamaria F. Boie, 1827) with a revised diagnosis of Calamaria yunnanensis Chernov, 1962. Journal of Natural History, 55:9-10, 531-560, - get paper here
  • Orlov, Nikolai L.; Truong Quang Nguyen, Tao Thien Nguyen, Natalia B. Ananjeva, and Cuc Thu Ho 2010. A new species of the genus Calamaria (Squamata: Ophidia: Colubridae) from Thua Thien-Hue Province, Vietnam. Russ. J. Herpetol. 17 (3): - get paper here
  • Poyarkov, Nikolay A.; Jr., Tan Van Nguyen, Nikolai L. Orlov, Gernot Vogel 2019. A New Species of the Genus Calamaria Boie, 1827 from the Highlands of the Langbian Plateau, Southern Vietnam (Squamata: Colubridae). Russ. J. Herpetol. 26 (6): 335-348 - get paper here
  • Stuart, B.L. & Heatwole, H. 2008. Country records of snakes from Laos. Hamadryad 33: 97–106 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Wang K, Lyu ZT, Wang J, Qi S, Che J 2022. Updated Checklist and Zoogeographic Division of the Reptilian Fauna of Yunnan Province, China. Biodiversity Science 30 (4): 21326, 1–31 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Yang, Jian-Huan and Xi Zheng 2018. A New Species of the Genus Calamaria (Squamata: Colubridae) from Yunnan Province, China. Copeia 106 (3): 485-491 - get paper here
  • Zhao, E.M. 2006. The snakes of China [in Chinese]. Hefei, China, Anhui Sience & Technology Publ. House, Vol. I, 372 pp., Vol. II (color plates), 280 pp.
  • Ziegler, Thomas; Nguyen Van Sang, Nguyen Quang Truong 2008. A New Reed Snake of the Genus Calamaria Boie (Squamata: Colubridae) from Vietnam. Current Herpetology 27 (2): 71-80 [2009] - get paper here
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