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Craspedocephalus travancoricus MALLIK, SRIKANTHAN, GANESH, VIJAYAKUMAR, CAMPBELL, MALHOTRA & SHANKER, 2021

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Crotalinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymCraspedocephalus travancoricus MALLIK, SRIKANTHAN, GANESH, VIJAYAKUMAR, CAMPBELL, MALHOTRA & SHANKER 2021: 599 
DistributionIndia (Kerala)

Type Locality. Peppara (8°39.7167’N; 77°10.7167’E), Kerala, a part of the Agasthyamalai Hill complex of the Southern Western Ghats.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: BNHS 3595 (CESS074) from Bonnakard, Peppara, Kerala by Saunak Pal and S. P. Vijayakumar in 2010; BNHS 2607 from Thiruvananthapuram, collector and year unknown. — Paratype: BNHS 3594 (CESS257) from Devarmalai, Tamil Nadu by Saunak Pal and Mrugank Prabhu in 2011. 
DiagnosisLineage diagnosis. A cryptic lineage belonging to the C. malabaricus complex, this lineage (L4) is genetically divergent from C. malabaricus (L5) by 9% & 2.2% and from C. anamallensis (L3) by 7.1 & 1.5% at cyt b and 16S respectively. This lineage is also allopatric with its related taxa C. malabaricus occurring north of the Palghat Gap and is immediately allopatric with C. anamallensis distributed just north of its distribution range, north of the Shencottah Gap (Mallik et al. 2021).

Description. Holotype in good condition, dissected, with a slender, cylindrical body of snout to vent length (SVL) 345 mm and a prehensile tail of length (TL) 61 mm; dorsal scales keeled with anterior dorsal scale rows (DSR) 21, mid body scale rows (MSR) 23 and posterior scale rows (PSR) 14-15; head prominent, of length 20.28 mm, clearly distinguished from the neck with small, juxtaposed dorsal scales on the head; rostral scale sub triangular with the upper side roughly half the size of the lower side with the tip visible from above supraoculars of length 3.64 mm and width 1.0 mm, separated by seven scales, between the posterior edge of the supraocular scales; canthus rostralis distinct with four canthal scales on the ridge; three preoculars, two postoculars and a thin elongated crescent shaped subocular, in contact with a small scale, encompassed by the third and fourth supralabial scale; eye with a distinct elliptical pupil, vertical diameter of the eye 2.6 mm and horizontal diameter 3.4 mm.; temporal scales mildly keeled; aperture of the nostril completely covered by the nasal scale, undivided and subrectangular; nasal scale bordering the first supralabial; loreal pit present in contact with the second supralabial with two scales between the nasal and the second supralabial: nine supralabials and 11 infralabials, with nine scales between the last supralabial, including the last supralabial till the start of the ventral scales; 1st, 2nd and 3rd infralabial scale in contact with the first pair of genials; a gap of three scales including the posterior genials followed by 147 ventrals, laterally separated from the dorsal scale rows by a slightly broader row of dorsal scales; anal scale undivided, followed by 55 to 56 divided subcaudals scales; terminal scale on the tail larger than the previous scale, blunt at the tip (Mallik et al. 2021).

Variation. The paratypes have SVL upto 282 mm and TL 65 mm, and differ from the holotype with respect to pholidosis by having 20 to 21 DSR, 21 MSR, 14 to 15 PSR, 157 ventrals and 55 subcaudals; three to four canthal scales on the canthus rostralis, and seven to nine cephalic scales from above; 10 to 12 infralabials on both sides (Mallik et al. 2021).

Colour in life. Head dorsum almost covered with dark brown to purplish brown colour with scales bordered with light yellowish green; postocular and preocular stripe almost indistinguishable from the head dorsum colour, separated with a faded yellowish green stripe; dark brown postocular stripe about 3 scales wide, a preocular/ temporal stripe that continues to the loreal pit and ends at the supralabials below; black border markings on the labials below the suboculars and anterior supralabials; body in light faded green and brown marbled scales with 28 brown saddle shaped markings, the markings centered with faded brown marbled markings; the row dorsal of scales that meet the ventrals alternate between the dorsal marked with faded yellow and dark brown with a gap of two to three scales in between them; ventrals plain light creamish yellow; subcaudals in black with yellow blotches; tail with 13 yellowish green bands on dark brown to black; eyes silverish with a tinge of yellow, rufous red blotches throughout the eye, concentrated towards the middle, perpendicular to the pupil, almost forming a cross (Mallik et al. 2021). 
Comment 
EtymologyToponym, named after its distribution in the far south of the Western Ghats, in the southern parts of the ‘Travancore’ hill ranges. 
References
  • 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
 
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