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Pareas nigriceps GUO & DENG, 2009

IUCN Red List - Pareas nigriceps - Data Deficient, DD

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Higher TaxaPareidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Xiaoheishan slug-eater snake
Chinese: 黑顶钝头蛇 
SynonymPareas nigriceps GUO & DENG 2009
Pareas nigriceps — WALLACH et al. 2014: 537 
DistributionChina (Yunnan: Gaoligong Mountains)

Type locality: Xiaohei Hill, Gaoligong Mountains National Nature Reserve (24.83671°N 98.76185°E, 2067 m a.s.l.), Longling County, Baoshan District, Yunnan province, Perople’s Republic of China.  
TypesHolotype: HNUL (also as HNU) 200505004 (Figs. 1–2), an adult male, collected by Yan Hengmei and Guo Keji on 28 May 2005. Paratype: HNU 200505014, adult female from the same area (24.82886°N 98.75917°E, 2010 m a.s.l.), collected by Dong Dazhi, Liang Hongbin and Hou Qingbai on 25 May 2005. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A small (about 520mm TL) brownish-black, slug-eater snake with the tail comprising 22.1% of the TL. One preocular, one crescent-shaped scale perhaps representing fused subocular and postocular, 15 dorsal scale rows with 9 scale rows slightly keeled at midbody, slightly enlarged vertebral scales, 175 ventrals without lateral keels, 76 divided subcaudals, one big black oval patch on the top of the head, two rounded black spots on each side of the head, 60 slightly billowing vertical dark bars on the trunk, 18 bars on the tail (the bars about 1–2 scales wide), and a black band on the neck (the distance of the band from the vertex spot about 8–10 scale-length).
In terms of pattern, P. nigriceps differs substantially from all other species of Pareas in having a large, nearly oval black patch on the top of the head and two rounded black spots on each side of the head (Fig. 1, Table 1). Pareas nigriceps is superficially most similar to P. stanleyi, but differs in the following traits: one preocular (absent in P. stanleyi, loreal contacts eye in P. nigriceps), one anterior temporal (two in P. stanleyi, except some specimens from Chong’an, Fujian; Zhao et al. 1998), head spot separated from the nuchal band (continues in P. stanleyi), ventrals 175 (158 or fewer in P. stanleyi), subcaudals 76 (excluding terminal spine) (48 or fewer in P. stanleyi; Zhao et al.1998).
In terms of scalation, the number of ventrals and subcaudals in P. nigriceps is similar to that of P. carinatus and P. formosensis. However, P. carinatus and P. formosensis are separated from P. nigriceps by the following traits: anterior temporals 2 or 3 (only one in P. nigriceps), one subocular (occasionally two in P. carinatus) and one postocular (occasionally two in P. carinatus; subocular and postocular fused into a crescent-shaped scale in P. nigriceps). Furthermore, P. formosensis differs from P. nigriceps in the following traits: slightly enlarged dorsal scales that are smooth or feebly keeled in the 3 median rows (only vertebral scales slightly enlarged, and dorsal scales feebly keeled in median 9 rows in P. nigriceps).
Pareas nigriceps differs from P. carinatus, P. formosensis, P. hamptoni, P. iwasakii, P. margaritophorus, P. nuchalis and P. stanleyi in having one anterior temporal only. Pareas boulengeri differs from P. nigriceps in having a loreal in contact with eye, unenlarged vertebral scales and smooth dorsal scales. As mentioned above, P. monticola differs substantially from P. nigriceps in scalation. Pareas nigriceps is distinguished from P. carinatus, P. formosensis, P. hamptoni, P. iwasakii, P. nuchalis and P. stanleyi and P. monticola by having a subocular and a postocular fusing into a crescent-shaped scale. Important differences in scalation and color pattern among the species of Pareas are summarised in Table 1 in GUO & DENG (2008). 
CommentHabitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
EtymologyThe specific name refers to the large black spot on the upper side of head. 
  • Guo, Keji & Deng, Xuejiang 2009. A new species of Pareas (Serpentes: Colubridae: Pareatinae) from the Gaoligong Mountains, southwestern China. Zootaxa 2008: 53-60 - get paper here
  • Harrington, Sean M; Jordyn M de Haan, Lindsey Shapiro, Sara Ruane 2018. Habits and characteristics of arboreal snakes worldwide: arboreality constrains body size but does not affect lineage diversification. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 125 (1): 61–71 - get paper here
  • 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.
  • Wang, Kai; Jinlong Ren, Hongman Chen, Zhitong Lyu, Xianguang Guo Ke Jiang, Jinmin Chen, Jiatang Li, Peng Guo, Yingyong Wang, Jing Che 2020. The updated checklists of amphibians and reptiles of China. Biodiversity Science 28 (2): 189-218 - get paper here
  • Yang, J.-H., X.-Y. Huang, J.-F. Ye, S.-P. Yang, X.-.C. Zhang & B.P.-L. Chan 2019. A report on the herpetofauna of Tengchong Section of Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve, China. Journal of Threatened Taxa 11(11): 14434–14451 - get paper here
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