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Hydrophis atriceps GÜNTHER, 1864

IUCN Red List - Hydrophis atriceps - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaElapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Black-headed seasnake 
SynonymHydrophis atriceps GÜNTHER 1864: 371
Hydrophis fasciatus atriceps GÜNTHER 1864
Hydrophis alcocki WALL 1906: 288
Disteira cincinnatii VAN DENBURGH & THOMPSON 1908: 42
Hydrophis atriceps — COGGER 1983: 249
Hydrophis atriceps — WELCH 1994: 67
Hydrophis atriceps — COGGER 2000: 714
Hydrophis (Hydrophis) atriceps — KHARIN 2004
Hydrophis atriceps — RASMUSSEN et al. 2011
Hydrophis atriceps — WALLACH et al. 2014: 340 
DistributionThailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia (Borneo),
Australia (Northern Territory, Western Australia?),
Papua New Guinea

Type locality: Thailand  
TypesSyntypes: BMNH 1946.1.2.62, BMNH
Holotype: IM 14470, fide Smith (1926) [Hydrophis alcocki].
Holotype: CAS 15016, from 1 mi. NE of Cavite, Manila Bay, Philippines [Disteira cincinnatii]. 
DiagnosisDIAGNOSTIC CHARACTERS (DIAGNOSIS).— Head small, body long and slender anteriorly; scales on thickest part of body subquadrangular or hexagonal in shape, juxtaposed or slightly imbricate; 5–6 maxillary teeth behind fangs; 2 anterior temporals; body scales in 25–30 (usually 27–29) rows around the neck, 39–49 (usually 43–45) around midbody (increase in number of rows from neck to mid-body 12–21, usually 14–18); ventral scales 323–452 (average 366 or less); anterior part of body including head and neck dark olive to black with pale oval yellowish spots on sides, sometimes connected as crossbars; posterior, grayish; below whitish; dark rhomboidal spots may extend down the sides of the body and form complete annuli in young. Total length males 1100 mm, females 990 mm; tail length males 100 mm, females 75 mm. [after LEVITON 2003] 

Synonymy after COGGER 1983.

The original description is available online (see link below).

Distribution: not in Singapore or not established there (Figueroa et al. 2023). All references to H. atriceps from the Bay of Bengal are most probably H. fasciatus, with which H. atriceps has long been associated. Does not occur in the waters of Myanmar fide LEVITON et al. (2003).

Habitat: marine. 
EtymologyNamed after its color, Latin “ater, atra, atrum” = dark or black, and “-ceps”, a short form of “caput” = head. 
  • Bergman, R. A. M. 1962. The anatomy of Hydrophis fasciatus atriceps. Biol. Jaarb. 30: 389-416
  • Cogger, H. G. 1975. The sea snakes of Australia and New Guinea. pp. 59-139 in Dunson, W. (ed. ) The Biology of Sea Snakes. Baltimore: University Park Press
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • Günther, A. 1864. The Reptiles of British India. London (Taylor & Francis), xxvii + 452 pp. - get paper here
  • Kharin, V. E. 2006. An Annotated Checklist of Sea Snakes of Vietnam, with Notes on a New Record of the Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait, Laticauda colubrina (Schneider, 1799)(Laticaudidae, Hydrophiidae). Russian Journal of Marine Biology 32 (4): 223–228. - get paper here
  • Kharin, V.E. 2004. Review of Sea Snakes of the genus Hydrophis sensu stricto (Serpentes: Hydrophiidae). Russian Journal of Marine Biology 30 (6): 387-394 - get paper here
  • Kharin, V.E. 2004. A review of sea snakes of the genus Hydrophis sensu stricto (Serpentes, Hydrophiidae). [in Russian]. Biologiya Morya (Vladivostok) 30 (6): 447-454 - get paper here
  • Kharin, Vladimir E.; Jakob Hallermann 2009. Annotated catalogue of sea kraits (Laticaudidae) and sea snakes (Hydrophiidae) of the herpetological collection of the Zoological Museum, University of Hamburg. Mitt. hamb. zool. Mus. Inst. 106: 51-67
  • Leviton, A.E., R.M. Brown, and C.D. Siler. 2014. The dangerously venomous snakes of the Philippine Archipelago. in The Coral Triangle: The 2011 Hearst Biodiversity Philippine Expedition (G.C. Williams and T.M. Gosliner, eds.). California Academy of Sciences, USA, Pp 473–530
  • Leviton, Alan E.; Guinevere O.U. Wogan; Michelle S. Koo; George R. Zug; Rhonda S. Lucas and Jens V. Vindum 2003. The Dangerously Venomous Snakes of Myanmar Illustrated Checklist with Keys. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. 54 (24): 407–462 - get paper here
  • McDowell, S. B. 1972. The genera of sea-snakes of the Hydrophis group (Serpentes: Elapidae). Trans. Zool. Soc. Lond 32: 189-247 - get paper here
  • Milto, Konstantin D.; Yury A. Lukin 2020. A Revised Herpetofauna of Ujung Kulon National Park, West Java, Indonesia. Russian Journal of Herpetology 27 (6): 353-368 - get paper here
  • Nguyen, S.V., Ho, C.T. and Nguyen, T.Q. 2009. Herpetofauna of Vietnam. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 768 pp.
  • O'Shea,M. 1996. A Guide to the Snakes of Papua New Guinea. Independent Publishing, Port Moresby, xii + 239 pp. - get paper here
  • Rasmussen, A. R. & I. INEICH 2000. Sea snakes of New Caledonia and surrounding waters (Serpentes: Elapidae): first report on the occurence of Lapemis curtus and description of new species from the genus Hydrophis. Hamadryad 25 (2): 91-99 - get paper here
  • RASMUSSEN, ARNE REDSTED; JOHAN ELMBERG, PETER GRAVLUND & IVAN INEICH 2011. Sea snakes (Serpentes: subfamilies Hydrophiinae and Laticaudinae) in Vietnam: a comprehensive checklist and an updated identification key. Zootaxa 2894: 1–20 - get paper here
  • RASMUSSEN, ARNE REDSTED; KATE LAURA SANDERS, MICHAEL L. GUINEA & ANDREW P. AMEY 2014. Sea snakes in Australian waters (Serpentes: subfamilies Hydrophiinae and Laticaudinae)—a review with an updated identification key. Zootaxa 3869 (4): 351–371 - get paper here
  • Shine, Richard; Claire Goiran, Catherine Shilton, Shai Meiri, Gregory P Brown 2019. The life aquatic: an association between habitat type and skin thickness in snakes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, blz136 - get paper here
  • Smith, M. A. 1926. Monograph on the Sea Snakes. (Hydrophiidae). London: British Museum, xvii + 130 pp.
  • Stuebing, R.B., Inger, R.F. & Lardner, B. 2014. A field guide to the snakes of Borneo, second edition. Natural history Publications (Borneo)
  • Van Denburgh, J. & Thompson, J. C. 1908. Description of a new species of sea snake from the Philippine Islands, with a note on the palatine teeth in the Proteroglypha. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. 3: 41-48 - get paper here
  • Wall, F. 1906. A descriptive list of the sea-snakes in the Indian Museum. Mem. Asiat. Soc. Beng. 1: 277-299
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Weinell, Jeffrey L.; Errol Hooper, Alan E. Leviton, Rafe M. Brown 2019. Illustrated Key to the Snakes of the Philippines. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (4) 66 (1): 1-49 - get paper here
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
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