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Hebius weixiensis HOU, YUAN, WEI, ZHAO, LIU, WU, SHEN, CHEN, GUO & CHE, 2021

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Weixi Keelback Snake
Chinese: 维西腹链蛇 (Wei Xi Fu Lian She) 
SynonymHebius weixiensis HOU, YUAN, WEI, ZHAO, LIU, WU, SHEN, CHEN, GUO & CHE 2021 
DistributionChina (Yunnan: Weixi County and Shigu Township in Lijiang)

Type locality: Shang Village (N27.130267°, E99.326753°; 2 426 m a.s.l.), Weixi County, Yunnan Province, China.  
TypesHolotype: KIZ 035739, adult male, collected by S.B. Hou and P.F. Wei on 19 June 2019.
Paratypes: KIZ 035741, KIZ 035742, and KIZ 035776, three adult males, and one adult female (KIZ 035740) collected by S.B. Hou and P.F. Wei on 19 June 2019 from same locality as holotype; three adult males (KIZ 028321, KIZ 028323, and KIZ 028324) and three adult females (KIZ 028318, KIZ 028325, and KIZ 028326) collected by K. Wang and J.L. Ren on 6 July 2016 from Gongnong Village, Pantiange Town, Weixi County, Yunnan Province, China; one adult male (KIZ 044335) collected by K. Wang from Shigu Township, Lijiang City; single adult male (CIB II0447) from Weixi, Yunnan (collector and collecting information unknown; CIB: Chengdu Institute of Biology). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Hebius weixiensis sp. nov. can be distinguished from its recognized congeners by a combination of the following characters: (1) nasal divided, each half in contact with each other; (2) loreal pentagonal, entering orbit or not; (3) supralabials eight; (4) preocular one or two; (5) postoculars three; (6) infralabials eight to ten; (7) dorsal scales 19-19-17 rows; (8) dorsal scale reduction from 19 to 17 rows at position of 96th to 101st ventrals; (9) ventrals 171–182; (10) subcaudals 74–88, paired; (11) anal divided; (12) no dorsal stripes or some dorsal stripes on posterior body; (13) no ventrolateral stripe; and (14) ventral body pale yellow (Hou et al. 2021).

Coloration: In life, dorsal surface of head olive brown, with randomly scattered dark gray to black speckles. Dorsum curry colored, with some glossy yellow stripes, especially on anterior of body. Venter pale yellow, with grayish black markings at outer margins of ventral scales on posterior of body, grayish black blotches continuing to tip of tail. In preservative, dorsal surface of head curry colored, with gray dots; ventral surface of head white; dorsal surface of anterior body brown-black, posterior body black; venter pale-yellow. Variation: Measurements, body proportions, and scale counts are listed in Table 1 (Hou et al. 2021).

Comparisons: Hebius weixiensis sp. nov. can be easily distinguished from all recognized congeners by a series of contrasting morphological characters, including body pattern, morphometry, and scalation. Among the six morphological characteristics selected (DSR, VS, SC, TaL/ToL, dorsal stripes, ventrolateral stripe), there are at least two morphological differences between the new species and its congeners. Hebius weixiensis sp. nov. differs from 12 species in DSRM (19 vs. 17 or 15), 35 species in VS (171–182 vs. less than 170 or more than 183), 26 species in SC (74–88 vs. less than 66 or more than 89), 19 species in TaL/ToL (23.5%–25.6% vs. more than 26.2%), 22 species in dorsal stripe (none vs. at least one), and 27 species in ventrolateral stripe (absent vs. present). A detailed comparison is provided in Supplementary Table S3 (Hou et al. 2021). 
EtymologyThe specific name “weixiensis” is derived from the type locality of the new species in Weixi County, Yunnan Province, China. 
  • Hou, S. B., Yuan, Z. Y., Wei, P. F., Zhao, G. G., Liu, G. H., Wu, Y. H., ... & Che, J. 2021. Molecular phylogeny and morphological comparisons of the genus Hebius Thompson, 1913 (Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae) uncover a new taxon from Yunnan Province, China, and support revalidation of Hebius septemlineatus (Schmidt, 1925). Zoological Research, 42(5): 620-625 - get paper here
  • 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
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