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Craspedocephalus anamallensis (GÜNTHER, 1864)

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Crotalinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Malabarian Pit Viper 
SynonymTrimeresurus anamallensis GÜNTHER 1864: 387
Lachesis anamallensis BOULENGER 1896
Lachesis anamallensis — WALL 1906: 322
Craspedocephalus malabaricus — MALLIK et al. 2021: 590 
DistributionS India (Kerala)

Type locality: Anamallay hills (=Anamalai hills)  
TypesLectotype: NHMUK 1946.1.19.93, collected by R.H. Beddome, designated by Mallik et al. 2021 — Paralectotypes: NHMUK 1946.1.18.73–74, NHMUK 1946.1.19.82, NHMUK 1946.1.19.89, NHMUK 1946.1.19.94–95, and NHMUK 1946.1.20.3, from Anamallay hills (=Anamalai hills) collected by R.H. Beddome. — Other specimens: CESS178 from Topslip, Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, by Ashok Kumar Mallik, 2011; CESS181, Orukomban Range, Parambikulam, Kerala by Ashok Kumar Mallik in 2011; CESS166 from Goodrickal Range, Kakki, Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala, by Saunak P. Pal, 2011. 
DiagnosisLineage diagnosis. A cryptic lineage belonging to the C. malabaricus complex, this lineage (L3) is genetically divergent from C. malabaricus (L5) by 8.3% & 1.2%, and from C. travancoricus sp. nov. (L4) by 7.1% and 1.5% at cyt b and 16S respectively. This lineage is geographically isolated from C. malabaricus to the North (separated by Palghat Gap) and to the south the boundary broadly lies in the Periyar Plateau, between Gudrikal range (its southern limit) and Devarmalai (northern limit of its sister lineage C. travancoricus sp. nov.) (Mallik et al. 2021).

Description. Lectotype in a generally good condition, entire with a cylindrical body of SVL 505mm and a prehensile tail of TL 87mm; dorsal scales mildly keeled with DSR 21, MSR 21 and PSR 15; head of length 29mm prominent and clearly distinguished from the neck with strongly imbricate small scales; tip of the rostral scale visible from above, with the upper end roughly half the size as the lower; divided supraoculars with nine cephalic scales between both the supraoculars; nine scales surrounding each divided pair of supraoculars on both the sides with nine scales between the posterior border of the supraoculars; distinct canthus rostralis with four scales on the canthal ridge; two preoculars and two postoculars, an elongated cresent shapend subocular; strongly keeled temporals and keels continue to be present in other head scales behind the oculars except the supralabials towards the posterior; eye with a distinct elliptical pupil of vertical diameter 3.3 mm and a horizontal diameter of 3.98 mm; nostril aperture completely covered by the nasal scale, undivided and pentagonal-sub rectangular in shape, in contact with the first three canthal scales, first and second supralabial; nine supralabials and eleven infralabials, with eight scales between the edge of the mouth and the first ventral scale; 1st, 2nd and 3rd infralabial scale in contact with the first pair of genials; a gap of six scales in between the first genial and ventrals; 157 ventrals separated laterally from the body scales by a row of slightly broader dorsal scales; anal scale undivided followed by 55 divided caudals; terminal scale rounded and blunt at the tip, slightly larger than the previous scale (Mallik et al. 2021).

Variation (n=10). The following characters vary within the specimens of the examined type series. Variations in pholidosis between the specimens were: supralabials 9–10 and infralabials 11–13, preoculars 2–3, ventrals 144–145 and subcaudals 50–62, about 8–12 scales between the edge of the mouth and the ventral scales; 21–22 scale rows around the neck; the post ocular stripe sometimes extends to 2 rows of scales (Mallik et al. 2021).

Colour in life. Black dorsal head scales with the anterior scales with hints of light green and posterior head scales bordered with yellow, up to the postocular eye stripe, that extends untill the nape; light bluish green on the lateral parts of the head that fades into a creamy yellow to white underside, from the mandibular region up to the ventrals; ventral scales creamy yellow scales alternating with light greenish yellow scales, consecutively larger gaps between the lighter scales filled with the greenish yellow scales towards the tail these correspond to the alternating between creamy yellow and green scales in the column that separates the ventrals and dorsal scales; caudal scales yellow, bordered and often blotched with black scales; black blotches throughout the dorsum with a gap of 3–4 scale rows (Mallik et al. 2021). 

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018, by implication). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet anamallensis is a toponym, alluding to its type locality - the Anamalai hills of the Southern Western Ghats. 
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp. - get paper here
  • Günther, A. 1864. The Reptiles of British India. London (Taylor & Francis), xxvii + 452 pp. - get paper here
  • Mallik AK, Srikanthan AN, Ganesh SR, Vijayakumar SP, Campbell PD, Malhotra A, Shanker K 2021. Resolving pitfalls in pit viper systematics – A multi-criteria approach to species delimitation in pit vipers (Reptilia, Viperidae, Craspedocephalus) of Peninsular India reveals cryptic diversity. Vertebrate Zoology 71: 577-619 - get paper here
  • Wall, F. 1906. The poisonous snakes of India and how to recognize them, Part II. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 17: 299-334 - get paper here
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