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Myrrophis chinensis (GRAY, 1842)

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Higher TaxaHomalopsidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Chinese Mud Snake
G: Chinesische Wassertrugnatter
Chinese: 中国水蛇 
SynonymHypsirhina Chinensis GRAY 1842: 66
Hypsirhina chinensis — MÜLLER 1881
Hypsirhina sinensis STANLEY 1915
Enhydris chinensis SMITH 1923
Enhydris chinensis — SMITH 1943: 387
Enhydris chinensis – HEATWOLE 1999
Enhydris chinensis — ZIEGLER 2002: 236
Enhydris chinensis — ZHAO 2006
Myrrophis chinensis — KUMAR et al. 2012
Myrrophis chinensis — MURPHY & VORIS 2014: 31
Myrrophis chinensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 467
Myrrophis chinensis — WANG et al. 2022 
DistributionS China (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hainan, Fujian), N Vietnam (Hoa Binh)

Type locality: China  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.1.2.42 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus). The combination of 21–23 dorsal scale rows at mid body and the internasal not in contact with the loreal, distinguish this genus from all other homalopsids with smooth scales and nasals in contact. All members of the Enhydris clade (chanardi, enhydris, jagorii, innominata, longicauda, subtaeniata) have 21 (rarely 23) dorsal scale rows at mid body, and internasals contacting the loreal. The only other homalopsid with smooth scales in 21 rows with the nasal in contact is E. matannensis from Sulawesi; it has upper labials 4+5 contacting the orbit, a divided internasal, and is in the plumbea clade.

Diagnosis. Dorsal scale rows in 23 rows reduced to 19 or 21 in front of vent; nasal scales small, diameter same or less than diameter of prefrontal; second pair of chin shields large and distinct; upper postocular smaller than lower postocular. Its congener M. bennettii has 21 scale rows at midbody and large nasal scales [KUMAR et al. 2012]. 
CommentHabitat: fresh water; highly aquatic species but it may leave the water occasionally.

Similar species: Enhydris bennettii.

Diet: primarily fish, but also frogs, crustaceans

Type species: Myrrophis chinensis Gray is the type species of the genus Myrrophis KUMAR et al. 2012. 
EtymologyNamed after its distribution in the Chinese sea.

The genus name is derived from the Greek myrr, meaning marsh, and ophis, meaning snake. 
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp. - get paper here
  • Fabre, Anne-Claire; David Bickford, Marion Segall and Anthony Herrel 2016. The impact of diet, habitat use, and behaviour on head shape evolution in homalopsid snakes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, DOI: 10.1111/bij.12753 - get paper here
  • Francis, A. 2021. A field guide to the snakes of Hong Kong. Regal Printing, Hong Kong - get paper here
  • Gray, J. E. 1842. Monographic Synopsis of the Water Snakes, or the Family of Hydridae. Zoological Miscellany 2: 59-68. - get paper here
  • Heatwole, H. 1999. Sea snakes, 2nd ed. Krieger, Malabar, 148 pp. [review in Copeia 2000 (4): 1136] - get paper here
  • KARNS, DARYL R.; VIMOKSALEHI LUKOSCHEK; JENNIFER OSTERHAGE; JOHN C. MURPHY & HAROLD K. VORIS 2010. Phylogeny and biogeography of the Enhydris clade (Serpentes: Homalopsidae). Zootaxa 2452: 18–30 [erratum in Zootaxa 2514: 68] - get paper here
  • Kumar, A. Biju; Kate L. Sanders , Sanil George & John C. Murphy 2012. The status of Eurostus dussumierii and Hypsirhina chinensis (Reptilia, Squamata, Serpentes): with comments on the origin of salt tolerance in homalopsid snakes. Systematics and Biodiversity 10 (4): 479-489 - get paper here
  • Mell,R. 1931. List of Chinese snakes. Lingnan Sci. Jour., Canton, 8 [1929]: 199-219.
  • Müller, Friedrich 1881. Zweiter Nachtrag zum Katalog der herpetologischen Sammlung des Basler Museums [1881 printed on paper]. Verh. naturf. Ges. Basel 7 (2): 166-174. - get paper here
  • Murphy, J.C. & Voris, H.K. 2014. A Checklist and Key to the Homalopsid Snakes (Reptilia, Squamata, Serpentes), with the Description of New Genera. FIELDIANA: LIFE AND EARTH SCIENCES (8): 1–43 - get paper here
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  • Ziegler, T. 2002. Die Amphibien und Reptilien eines Tieflandfeuchtwald-Schutzgebietes in Vietnam. Natur und Tier Verlag (Münster), 342 pp. - get paper here
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