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Craspedocephalus malabaricus (JERDON, 1854)

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Crotalinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Malabarian Pit Viper 
SynonymTrigonocephalus (Cophias) malabaricus JERDON 1854
Trigonocephalus (Cophias) wardii JERDON 1854 (fide SMITH 1943)
Trimeresurus anamallensis GÜNTHER 1864
Lachesis anamallensis BOULENGER 1896
Lachesis anamallensis — WALL 1906: 322
Lachesis coorgensis RAO 1917
Trimeresurus malabaricus SMITH 1943: 513
Trimeresurus malabaricus — WELCH 1994: 115
Trimeresurus malabaricus — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 338
Trimeresurus malabaricus — GUMPRECHT et al. 2004
Trimeresurus malabaricus — MALHOTRA & THORPE 2004
Trimeresurus (Craspedocephalus) malabaricus — DAVID et al. 2011
Craspedocephalus malabaricus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 187
Craspedocephalus malabaricus — GUO et al. 2018
Craspedocephalus malabaricus — MALLIK et al. 2021: 590 
DistributionS India (Maharashtra (South of Mahabaleshwar – N. Khaire (pers. comm.), Koyna) Karnataka (Castle Rock) [A. Captain, pers. comm.], Kerala, Tamil Nadu)

Type locality: “all the forests of the West coast” [= Western Ghats, SW India]; restricted to neotype locality: Coorg, Karnataka, 12°24.82’N; 75°43.85’E.  
TypesNeotype: ZSI 18161 = holotype of Lachesis coorgensis Rao, 1917 (fide Mallik et al. 2021); Syntypes: lost; formerly at ZSI, reported lost by Smith (1943), Toriba (1993b), Wallach et al. (2014). BMNH 1946.1.19.82 was mentioned as type in older online catalogue but no longer. 
DiagnosisLineage diagnosis. A lineage of the C. malabaricus complex, C. malabaricus s. str. (L5) is here restricted only to populations north of the Palghat Gap. This nominotypical population is 8.3–9% and 1.2– 2.2% divergent at cyt b and 16S respectively, from those south of the Palghat Gap (L3 & L4), recognised here as two nominate taxa: C. anamallensis (Günther, 1864) and Craspedocephalus travancoricus sp. nov. (see below). These taxa are allopatric with respect to each other and C. malabaricus (Mallik et al. 2021).

Description. Neotype in good condition, small lesion near the nape, possibly caused while collecting and euthanizing the individual; specimen with a slender, cylindrical body of snout to vent length (SVL) 481 mm and a prehensile tail of length (TL) 73 mm; dorsal scales keeled with anterior dorsal scale rows (DSR) 21, mid body scale rows (MSR) 21 and posterior scale rows (PSR) 13; head prominent, of length 24.3 mm, clearly distinguished from the neck with small, mildly keeled scales on the head; rostral scale trapezoid, with the lower side roughly more than twice the size of the upper side with the tip visible from above; supraoculars divided, separated by eight cephalic scales between both supraoculars at its posterior border; seven scales bordering each supraocular. Canthus rostralis distinct with four canthal scales; three preoculars, two postoculars and a thin elongated crescent shaped subocular; eye with a distinct elliptical pupil, vertical diameter of the eye 3.31 mm and horizontal diameter 3.68 mm; strongly keeled temporal scales and cephalic scales in the posterior sides above the mandibular joint; aperture of the nostril completely covered by the nasal scale, undivided and sub-pentagonal shaped, in contact with the first two canthal scales and the 1st and 2nd supralabial; loreal pit present in contact with the second supralabial and the 2nd and 3rd preoculars; nine supralabials and 12 infralabials, with eight scales between the last supralabial, including the last supralabial up to the start of the ventral scales; 1st, 2nd and 3rd infralabial scale in contact with the first pair of genials; a gap of four scales including the posterior genials followed by 148 ventrals, laterally separated from the dorsal scale rows by a slightly broader row of dorsal scales; anal scale undivided, followed by 38 divided subcaudals scales; Terminal scale on the tail larger than the previous scale, blunt at the tip (Mallik et al. 2021).

Variation (n=20). The referred materials are of SVL up to 670 mm and TL up to 126 mm with colours varying from dark brownish red to light green throughout the specimens in its current preservation state, differs from the holotype with respect to pholidosis by having 19 to 22 DSR, 19 to 23 MSR, 13 to15 PSR, 145–149 ventrals and 52–54 subcaudals; head distinct with supralabials ranging between 8–10 and infralabials ranging between 10–13; one to three preocular scales, one to two scales (some specimens showing an absence of these scales) between the 3rd supralabial scale and the suboculars, seven to nine cephalic scales and seven to eight scales surrounding the supraoculars from the dorsum (Mallik et al. 2021).

Colour in life. A highly variable and polymorphic species, with respect to colour, specimens can be found in a variety of colour morphs greenish blue-cyan, bright yellow, green, rufous brown, bright orange and red coloured specimens have been encountered during this study; head characterized with a thick dark brown to black postocular stripe till the nape, labials sometimes marked with blotches and a highly variable pattern above the head, sometimes fully dark, some individuals with no markings at all, body with alternating zig-zag saddle shaped markings with the last rows of scales on the tail banded with different colour; these markings vary from brick reddish, dark brown to black, sometimes intermixed with spots of other colours such as green, yellow and blue; the base colour of the body varies from light brown in juveniles, light cream, orange, yellow, brick red, bluish green and sometimes morphs mottled with all or some of the aforementioned colours; ventrals sometimes vary from the colour of the dorsum, complementing the variety of vibrant dorsal colours, but often are coloured similar to the dorsum; colour change is also observed to be seasonal (Kanagavel et al. 2012); juveniles brown with dark brown to black markings, neonates and younger juveniles possess a tail ‘lure’ that is often different from the body’s colouration. Mandibular region and the ventrals in alternating light green, blue, yellow to creamy yellow with speckles, separated from the dorsal scales with a longitudinal lighter irregular stripe, two prominent, labial stripes from the eye and the loreal pit, up to the edge of the lower end of the supralabial region (Mallik et al. 2021). 

Synonymy: Trimeresurus anamallensis (NCBI ID: 2753823) appears to have been resurrected from synonymy in an unpublished paper by Mallik et al.

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet malabaricus is a toponym, alluding to its type locality - the Malabar region of the Western Ghats. 
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