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Protobothrops sieversorum (ZIEGLER, HERRMANN, DAVID, ORLOV & PAUWELS, 2000)

IUCN Red List - Protobothrops sieversorum - Endangered, EN

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Crotalinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Sievers’ Three horned-scaled pitviper
F: Triceratolepidophide des Sievers
G: Sievers Dreihornschuppen-Grubenotter 
SynonymTriceratolepidophis sieversorum ZIEGLER, HERRMANN, DAVID, ORLOV & PAUWELS 2000
Triceratolepidophis sieversorum — GUMPRECHT et al. 2004
Protobothrops sieversorum — ORLOV et al. 2009
Protobothrops sieversorum — MALHOTRA et al. 2011
Triceratolepidophis sieversorum — WALLACH et al. 2014: 722 
DistributionVietnam (Quang Binh)

Type locality: Phong Nha (village), Phong Nha Nature Reserve, Prov. Quang Binh, Vietnam, 100 m elevation. Only known from the type locality.  
TypesHolotype: ZFMK 71262 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (Triceratolepidophis): A genus of Asian pitviper belonging to the Trimeresurus group, characterized by a large size, reaching at least 1255 mm; elongated head and body; the presence of a nasal pore; strongly keeled dorsal scales, bearing an elongated longitudinal keel covering at least two thirds of the length of the scale, made o f a series o f three consecutive horns or crests, high and wide, rising progressively from front to back, separated by two lower but distinctively elevated parts (Fig.7a d), producing very strongly keeled dorsal scales; a tessellate fimbriate microdermatoglyphic pattern of dorsal scales with distinctly raised fimbriae; raised, hom-like multiple supraoculars; cephalic scales on upper head surface between supraoculars distinctly keeled for a part, all becoming progressively strongly keeled towards the occipital region; and a grayish brown ground color with a blotched dorsal pattern.
Triceratolepidophis, although sharing several morphological similarities with other members ofthe genera Trimeresurus and Protobothrops, such as the ground color, blotched dorsal pattern, the upraised supraoculars. and head scalation, differs from all other Asian crotaline genera currently recognized in David and Ineich (1999), namely Calloselasma Cope,
1860, Deinagkistrodon Gloyd, 1979, Ermia Zhang, 1993, Gloydius Hoge and Romano Hoge, 1981, Hypnale Fitzinger, 1843, Ovophis Burger in Hoge and Romano Hoge, 1981, Protobothrops Hoge and Romano Hoge, 1983, Trimeresurus Lacepecte, 1804, and Tropidolaemus Wagler, 1830, by the unique autapomorph scale structure as well as the unique microdermatoglyphic pattern of the Oberhautchen, which is tessellate fimbriate due to the upraising of the fimbriae. This structure is unique in the Trimeresurus group, in which other species have only the tessellate pattern typical of the Crotalinae (Ziegler et al. 2000: 201).

Diagnosis: An Asian pitviper of the Trimeresurus group, characterized by the main diagnostic features given above for the genus, namely a large size, at least up to 1255 mm; elongated head and body; strongly keeled dorsal scales due to the presence on most o f them o f an elongated longitudinal keel made of a series of three consecutive, high and wide hom/crest-like summits, rising progressively from front to back, separated by two lower but distinctively elevated parts (Fig. 7a-d ); the tessellate fimbriate microdennatoglyphic pattern o f dorsal scales; raised, hom-like multiple supraoculars; cephalic scales between supraoculars keeled for a part and becoming progressively strongly keeled backwards on the occipital region; and an overall grayish ground color. Other diagnostic characters include the following features: 23 dorsal scale rows at midbody; high numbers of ventral and subcaudal plates, 228 and 82 respectively; 8-9 supralabials, first totally separated from nasal, the longest being numbers 4 and 5: upper preocular divided into 3 consecutive small scales, from front to back one large and two small; a single true loreal; 5th supralabial approximately as high and wide as the 4th; and a lower row of temporals much larger than upper rows.
This species is distinguishable from all other Asian pitvipers by the unique macroand microstructures of the dorsal scales. The combination of other morphological characters are also sufficient to separate this species from all other known Asian pitvipers. However, the ground color and hom-like supra- oculars make it superficially similar to some other members of the genus Trimeresurus, namely T. cornutus and T. puniceus. Nevertheless, general habitus, color and pattern as well as meristic characters are shared by several species of the genus Protobothrops, especially P. mucrosquamatus.
From the other homed species of the Trimeresurus group, Triceratolepidophis sieversorum is immediately distinguished by the strongly and uniquely keeled dorsal scales; furthermore, the structure of the supraoculars is different from T. cornutus, in which the 3 or 4 horns are convergent and confluent at their tips, whereas they are divergent and free in the new species. From the Indo-Malayan T. puniceus, it differs by the diagnostic characters given above, and much higher numbers of ventral and subcaudal plates. Other Indo-Malayan homed species, T. borneensis Peters, 1872 and T. brongersmai Hoge, 1969, also exhibit much lower numbers of ventral and subcaudal plates, and a strongly projected spatulate nose.
From Protobothrops mucrosquamatus, to which superficially it is quite similar, this new taxon differs by the keels of the dorsal scales as well as a completely different microdermatoglyphic pattern, which is typically tessellate in P. mucrosquamatus, but also by the presence of raised supraoculars and an upper preocular divided into 3 scales instead of two as in P. mucrosquamatus. 

Distribution: see map in Guo et a. 2016: 383 (Fig. 1). 
EtymologyThe generic nomen Triceratolepidophis is derived from the Greek words tri meaning "three," keras meaning "hom," lepis meaning "scale," and ophis, meaning "snake." It describes the unique structure of the dorsal scales, ornated with a strong keel composed of three consecutive horn/crest-like ornamentations, found in different degrees of pronounciation in all dorsal parts of the body except the head and the neck region. This generic nomen is masculine in gender.

Named after Moritz and Julian SIevers (Blinningstedt) in recognition of the efforts of their father Dr. J.H. Sievers in financially supporting zoological research and nature conservation in the Phong Nha Nature Reserve, Vietnam. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Böhme, Wolfgang 2014. Herpetology in Bonn. Mertensiella 21. vi + 256 pp. - get paper here
  • Gumprecht, A.; Tillack, F.; Orlov, N.L.; Captain, A. & Ryabow, S. 2004. Asian pitvipers. Geitje Books, Berlin, 368 pp.
  • GUO, PENG; QIN LIU, TAO WEN, RONG XIAO, MING FANG, GUANGHUI ZHONG, NGUYEN Q. TRUONG, FEI ZHU, ROBERT C. JADIN, CAO LI 2016. Multilocus phylogeny of the Asian Lance-headed pitvipers (Squamata, Viperidae, Protobothrops). Zootaxa 4093 (3): 382–390 - get paper here
  • HERRMANN, H.-W., ZIEGLER, T., STUART, B. L. & N. L. ORLOV 2002. New findings on the distribution, morphology and natural history of Triceratolepidophis sieversorum (Serpentes: Viperidae). Herpetological Natural History 9 (1): 89-94
  • Herrmann, H.-W.; Ziegler, T.; Malhotra, A.; Thorpe, R.S. & Parkinson, C.L. 2004. Redescription and systematics of Trimeresurus cornutus (Serpentes: Viperidae)based on morphology and molecular data. Herpetologica 60 (2): 211-221 - get paper here
  • Nguyen, S.V., Ho, C.T. and Nguyen, T.Q. 2009. Herpetofauna of Vietnam. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 768 pp.
  • Orlov, Nikolai L.; Sergei A. Ryabov, and Nguyen Thien Tao 2009. Two New Species of Genera Protobothrops Hoge et Romano-Hoge, 1983 and Viridovipera Malhotra et Thorpe, 2004 (Ophidia: Viperidae: Crotalinae) from Karst Region in Northeastern Vietnam. Part I. Description of a New Species of Protobothrops Genus. Russ. J. Herpetol. 16 (1): 69-82 - get paper here
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - 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.
  • YANG, JIAN-HUAN; NIKOLAI L. ORLOV & YING-YONG WANG 2011. A new species of pitviper of the genus Protobothrops from China (Squamata: Viperidae). Zootaxa 2936: 59–68 - get paper here
  • ZIEGLER, T. & H.-W. HERRMANN 2002. Wiederentdeckung zweier gehörnter Grubenotterarten in Vietnam. Mitteilungen Zoologische Gesellschaft für Arten- und Populationsschutz e.V. 18(2): 24-26
  • Ziegler, T., H. W. Herrmann, P. David, N. Orlov & O. S. G. Pauwels 2000. Triceratolepis sieversorum, a new genus and species of pitviper (Reptilia: Serpentes: Viperidae: Crotalinae) from Vietnam. Russ. J. Herpetol. 7 (3): 199-214 - get paper here
  • ZIEGLER, THOMAS; RALF HENDRIX, VU NGOC THANH, MARTINA VOGT, BERNHARD FORSTER & DANG NGOC KIEN 2007. The diversity of a snake community in a karst forest ecosystem in the central Truong Son, Vietnam, with an identification key. Zootaxa 1493: 1-40 - get paper here
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