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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesPortuguese: Cobra-D’água 
SynonymHelicops apiaka KAWASHITA-RIBEIRO, ÁVILA & MORAIS 2013
Helicops apiaka — NOGUEIRA et al. 2019 
DistributionBrazil (Mato Grosso)

Type locality: left margin (downstream) of the Teles Pires River (9°27’04.30’’S; 56°30’51.9’’W, datum SAD 69), municipality of Paranaíta, state of Mato Grosso, Brazil.  
TypesHolotype: UFMT-R 8512, adult male, collected on 27 October 2009 by Carolina L. Cavlac. Paratypes: UFMT-R 7975, 7983, 8180, 8496, 8497, 8513 (adult males), UFMT-R 8004, 8227, 8244 (adult females), UFMT-R 8169, 8391, 8392, 8412, 8490 (juvenile males), UFMT-R 8475 (juvenile female), all collected at the type locality; UFMT-R 4473 (adult female), UFMT-R 5714 (adult male), collected at Guaranta ̃ do Norte municipality, Mato Grosso State, Brazil, on 10–13 March 2003 by Tami Mott; UFMT-R 5482 (adult female), UFMT-R 5499 (juvenile female), UFMT-R 7709, 7718 , 7722, 7784 (juvenile males), UFMT-R 7710 (adult male), collected at Alta Floresta municipality, Mato Grosso State, Brazil, from December 2006 to January 2007 by Elisaˆngela S. Brito; MZUSP 17239 (adult female), collected at Peixoto de Azevedo municipality, Mato Grosso State. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Helicops apiaka sp. nov. is distinguished from all congeners by the following combination of characters: (1) dorsal scales in 21/21/19 rows in males and 23/21/19 rows in females; (2) subcaudals 79–103 (n = 14; 95.1 +/- 5.8) in males and 80–84 (n 1⁄4 8; 82.4 6 1.3) in females; (3) ventrals 118–127 (n
= 18, 121.2 +/- 2.2) in males and 124–132 (n = 8, 126.9 +/- 2.5) in females; (4) subcaudal keels present; (5) maxillary teeth 15–16 + 2; (6) infralabials 9–12/10–11; (7) dorsal scales strongly keeled; (8) banded dorsal color pattern; (9) ventral blotches 14–19 (n = 18, 15.9 +/- 1.4) in males and 16–19 (n=8, 17 +/- 0.9) in females (see Table 1).
The new species can be distinguished easily from H. danieli, H. hagmanni, H. leopardinus, H. pastazae, H. petersi, H. polylepis, H. scalaris, and H. yacu by having a banded (instead of spotted) dorsal color pattern and by the presence of subcaudal keels (absent in these species, except in H. scalaris and H. yacu; Rossman in Peters and Orejas–Miranda, 1970). Furthermore, the new species can be distinguished from H. danieli by a higher number of dorsal and subcaudal scales (19– 21/19–20/16–19 dorsal scales in males and females, 76–86 subcaudals in males, and 61– 70 subcaudals in females of H. danieli; Yuki, 1994; Rossman, 2002b) and by its ventral color pattern (cream venter with two rows of black semicircular markings in H. danieli; Rossman, 2002b). From H. hagmanni, H. pastazae, H. polylepis and H. yacu, the new species is further distinguished by a smaller number of dorsal scale rows (23–27/27–29/19–23 in males and 27/27/21 in females of H. hagmanni [Rossman, 1975]; 23/24/19 in H. pastazae [Rossman, 1976]; 23/23/19 in both sex of H. polylepis [Dixon and Soini, 1986]; 23–29/25– 28/18–20 in females of H. yacu [Rossman and Dixon, 1975; Rossman and Abe, 1979]). From H. leopardinus, the new species is also distinguished by a generally higher number of subcaudals (75.9 +/- 4.1, range 67–86, n = 52 in males and 62.7 +/- 4.9, range 53–76, n = 40 in females of H. leopardinus), and a smaller number of maxillary teeth (18 + 2 in both sexes of H. leopardinus). The new species lacks the three nuchal bands present in H. scalaris (Rossman, 2002a).
From H. carinicaudus, H. infrataeniatus, and H. trivittatus, the new species is distin- guished by having a banded dorsal color pattern (instead of a striped pattern) and by the presence of subcaudal keels (absent in these species; Rossman in Peters and Orejas- Miranda, 1970; Cunha and Nascimento, 1978).
Helicops modestus and H. tapajonicus have a uniform dorsal coloration (dark olive in H. modestus and a uniformly dark green in H. tapajonicus; Frota, 2005) and lack subcaudal keels (instead of banded dorsal color pattern and presence of subcaudal keels in the new species). The new species can further be distinguished from H. tapajonicus by a higher number of dorsal scale rows (19/19/17 in both sexes of H. tapajonicus) and subcaudals (79 in a male and 67–76 in females of H. tapajonicus; Frota, 2005).
The new species shares a banded dorsal color pattern with H. angulatus and H. gomesi. The new species can be distinguished from H. angulatus by having a generally higher number of dorsal scale rows (19–21/19–20/17 in males and 19–21/19/17–19 in females of H. angulatus), of ventrals (111.2 +/- 3.4, range 105–123, n = 49 in males and 115.2 6 2.5 range 109–123, n = 62 in females of H. angulatus), and of subcaudals (87.1 +/- 5.1, range 75–96, n = 28 in males and 75.5 +/- 4.2, range 66–83, n = 38 in females of H. angulatus), and also by generally having fewer ventral blotches (20.5 +/- 2.1, range 15–25, n = 49 in males and 21 +/- 1.8, range 17–25, n = 63 in females of H. angulatus). Finally, Helicops apiaka can be distinguished from H. gomesi by having a higher number of dorsal scale rows (19 in both sexes in H. gomesi; Amaral, 1921).
Description of holotype.—The holotype is an adult male of 337 mm SVL; with head lacking evident cervical constriction, 5.8% of SVL (19.6 mm); interocular distance 8.3 mm, pupil round, eye diameter 2.4 mm; loreal quadrangular, higher (1.4 mm/1.5 mm) than long (1.1 mm); body robust, elliptical in cross- section, slightly depressed; tail moderately long (63.5% of SVL). Supralabials 8/8, 4th– 4th contacting orbit; infralabials 10/10, 1st– 5th/1st–5th contacting anterior chinshields and 5th–6th/5th–6th contacting posterior chinshields; presence of granules on chin- shields, mental and first two infralabials; one preocular; two postoculars; temporals 2 + 3/3 + 3 (Fig. 1); one internasal; nasal semidivided; dorsal scales in 21/21/17 rows, strongly keeled (except first paraventral rows, which are weakly keeled), without apical pits; ventrals 123; anal plate divided; paired subcaudals 97, with strong subcaudal keels. Maxillary teeth 14 + 2 [check all characters for proper formatting].

Diagnosis: see Schöneberg & Köhler 2021 for alternative diagnosis. 
Etymologynamed after the Apiaká ethnic group, which inhabits the northern region of the Mato Grosso State, Brazil. 
  • Costa, Henrique C.; Diego J. Santana, Fernando Leal, Ricardo Koroiva, and Paulo C.A. Garcia 2016. A New Species of Helicops (Serpentes: Dipsadidae: Hydropsini) from Southeastern Brazil. Herpetologica 72 (2): 157-166 - get paper here
  • Gonzalez R. C. et al. 2020. Lista dos Nomes Populares dos Répteis no Brasil – Primeira Versão. Herpetologia Brasileira 9 (2): 121 – 214 - get paper here
  • Kawashita-Ribeiro, Ricardo Alexandre; Robson Waldemar Ávila, and Drausio Honorio Morais 2013. A New Snake of the Genus Helicops Wagler, 1830 (Dipsadidae, Xenodontinae) from Brazil. Herpetologica 69 (1): 80-90. - get paper here
  • MORAES-DA-SILVA, ANTONIO; RENATA CECÍLIA AMARO, PEDRO M. SALES NUNES, CHRISTINE STRÜSSMANN, MAURO JUNIOR TEIXEIRA, ALBEDI JR. ANDRADE, VINÍCIUS SUDRÉ, RENATO RECODER, MIGUEL TREFAUT RODRIGUES, FELIPE FRANCO CURCIO 2019. Chance, luck and a fortunate finding: a new species of watersnake of the genus Helicops Wagler, 1828 (Serpentes: Xenodontinae), from the Brazilian Pantanal wetlands. Zootaxa 4651 (3): 445–470 - get paper here
  • Nogueira, Cristiano C.; Antonio J.S. Argôlo, Vanesa Arzamendia, Josué A. Azevedo, Fausto E. Barbo, Renato S. Bérnils, Bruna E. Bolochio, Marcio Borges-Martins, Marcela Brasil-Godinho, Henrique Braz, Marcus A. Buononato, Diego F. Cisneros-Heredia, 2019. Atlas of Brazilian snakes: verified point-locality maps to mitigate the Wallacean shortfall in a megadiverse snake fauna. South American J. Herp. 14 (Special Issue 1):1-274 - get paper here
  • Schöneberg, Y., & Köhler, G. 2021. Distribution and identification of the species in the genus Helicops Wagler, 1830 (Serpentes, Colubridae, Xenodontinae). ARPHA Preprints, 1, e67869 - get paper here
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