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Rhabdophis bindi DAS, SMITH, SIDIK, SARKER, BORUAH, PATEL, MURTHY, & DEEPAK, 2021

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Bindee keelback snake 
SynonymRhabdophis bindi DAS, SMITH, SIDIK, SARKER, BORUAH, PATEL, MURTHY, & DEEPAK 2021
Rhabdophis himalayanus — RAHMAN & AHMED 2012: 107
Rhabdophis himalayanus — PURKAYASHTA 2013: 93
Rhabdophis himalayanus — HASAN et al. 2014: 134
Rhabdophis himalayanus — HAKIM et al. 2020: 1255
Rhabdophis sp. — DAS 2008: 24
Rhabdophis sp. — DAS et al. 2009: 127,128
Rhabdophis sp. — MAHONY et al. 2009: 89
Rhabdophis sp. — DAS 2010 
DistributionIndia (Assam, Mizoram, Tripura), Bangladesh

Type locality: Maruacherra (30 m elevation, 24.97354 N, 92767 E), Cachar District, Assam, India.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. WII-AD632, (Figs 3,7), adult male, collected by Alex Pothmy on 14 April 2019.
Paratypes (n = 4). All from Cachar District, Assam, India. WII-AD45, adult male from Lakhicherra (55 m, 24.97635 N, 92.77700 E), found among tree root undercut close to a water puddle, 3 m away from dry streambed on 28 March 2007 at 1110h; WII-AD46, adult female from Marua Village (32 m, 24.97311 N, 92.76815 E), killed by local people on 2 April 2007 at 1630h; WII-AD48, adult male from Lakhicherra Stream (36 m, 24.97639 N, 92.78058 E), collected among accumulated vegetation 1.5 m away from flowing stream on 26 May 2007 at 1230h; WII-AD47, adult male from Jhum Cultivation field above Borthol Stream (100 m, 24.98411 N, 92.77526 E, on 26 May 2007 at 1730h. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A medium-sized Rhabdophis (sensu stricto) characterized by having: (1) 19 dorsal scale rows at midbody; (2) 157–164 ventrals; (3) nostril located on lateral side of head; (4) internasal truncated anteriorly; (5) nuchal groove absent; (6) no enlarged nuchal scales; (7) a prominent red rhomboid spot on nape; (8) a black subocular stripe present; (9) dorsum brownish, mottled with black and white; two rows of white spots on 2–3 scales on either side (often on 3rd–5th dorsal scale rows), cream towards tail; (10) last two maxillary teeth strongly and abruptly enlarged, preceded by a diastema (Das et al. 2021).

Coloration. Olive color above; supralabials 2–5 black edged, forming broad dash between 5 and 6; neck with light orange spot; small whitish spots dorsolaterally, throughout body; black edged series of lateral scales; chin region pale white; venter pale cream anteriorly, darker yellowish posteriorly; edge and ventrolateral margins of ventrals darker; subcaudals pale white anteriorly, mottled with black posteriorly, dark edged (Das et al. 2021).

Dentition. Maxillary teeth 26+2, recurved and stout, not compressed, gradually increasing in size posteriorly, diastema present, last two distinctly enlarged (Fig. 4a, Table 2) (Das et al. 2021).

Colour in life. Dorsum dark brown, top of head uniform brown; anterior part of body dorsal scales are randomly edged with white and black, posterior part of dorsum with small lighter spots arranged along mid dorsal line; labials light brown, some parts paler than others, partially edged with black on the posterior margins; two thick black lines, one below eye and other from behind eye to the angle of jaw after which it is broken but runs almost two head length behind in some individuals; series of narrow white spots along the two sides of mid dorsum, brighter and irregular in the anterior half of the dorsal body, in posterior parts, those bright spots become cream coloured and more consistent often one two dorsal scales, these spots are arranged along a faint reddish brown line running throughout length of the dorsum up to half of the tail length, interstitial skin greyish, a scarlet coloured diamond shaped mark on the top of neck just after parietals; Irish silver, tongue black; ventral uniform white, outer edge of ventrals edged with black; subcaudals yellowish lightly sprayed with black (Das et al. 2021).

Comparison. Rhabdophis bindi sp. nov. differs in having 19 scale rows at midbody (versus 23–27 in R. plumbicolor; 21 in R. callistus and R. chrysargoides; 17 in R. leonardi and R. auriculatus; 15 in R. chiwen, R. pentasupralabialis, R. angeli, R. guangdongensis, R. nuchalis and R. swinhonis). Rhabdophis bindi sp. nov. differs from these species in having a higher number of subcaudals 88–102 (versus 44–66 in R. akraios, 49–60 in R. flaviceps, 42–58 in R. rhodomelas, 35–50 in R. plumbicolor, 39–46 in R. angeli, 79–86 in R. callichroma and 40–56 in R. conspicillatus, 38–74 in R. tigrinus and 61–75 in R. lineatus). Rhabdophis bindi sp. nov. differs in the number of ventrals being157–164 (versus 148–156 in R. spilogaster and 176–185 in R. murudensis). Rhabdophis bindi sp. nov differs in the number of maxillary teeth 28–31 (versus 27 in R. adleri, 24–26 in R. ceylonensis, 20–22 in R. flaviceps, 22–23 in R. angeli, 14–17 in R. rhodomelas, >33 in R. barbouri and in 22–23 R. tigrinus). Rhabdophis bindi sp. nov. differs in overall dorsal body coloration brownish body without any distinct bands Versus dorsal body coloration green with distinct continuous/broken bands along the body in R. nigrocinctus.
Rhabdophis bindi sp. nov. shows some similarity with R. subminiatus and R. himalayanus and R. chrysargos (Appendix 3). Rhabdophis bindi sp. nov. can be easily distinguished from R. subminiatus including its subspecies R. subminiatus subminiatus Schlegel, 1837 and R. subminiatus helleri (Schmidt, 1925) by the presence of a diastema on the maxillary between the last two enlarged teeth and the rest of the tooth which is absent in R. subminiatus. Rhabdophis bindi sp. nov. (average SVL 537 mm, N = 10) can be distinguished from R. himalayanus (average SVL 621mm, N = 41) in having a smaller body size (Appendix 3) and the absence of nuchal glands. Furthermore, these two species can be differentiated clearly based on colour; Rhabdophis bindi sp. nov. have a plain venter and subcaudals versus venter and subcaudals mottled/dark with brownish or black coloration and it has a distinct roughly rhomboidal red spot whereas R. himalayanus has a band on its neck (Figs. 6–8; Appendix 3). Rhabdophis bindi sp. nov. can be distinguished from R. chrysargos in having eight supralabials versus nine (Appendix 3). Furthermore, R. bindi sp. nov. can be distinguished from all other species of Rhabdophis except some populations of R. spilogaster in having a distinct roughly rhomboidal red coloured nuchal spot/blotch which is absent from all other species (Das et al. 2021). 
Comment 
EtymologyThe species epithet, “bindi, is an invariable feminine noun derived from the Sanskrit word ‘bindu’ (meaning a bright spot), referring to the unique “red marking on the nape region of the new species and reminiscent of the “red beauty spot adorning the foreheads of Indian women and signifying the point of creation of the cosmos. 
References
  • Das A, Smith EN, Sidik I, Sarker GC, Boruah B, Patel NG, Murthy B, Deepak V. 2021. Hidden in the plain sight: a new species of Rhabdophis (Serpentes: Natricinae) from the Rhabdophis himalayanus complex. Zootaxa 5020 (3): 401-433 - get paper here
  • Das, A. 2008. Diversity and Distribution of herpetofauna and evaluation of their conservation status in Barail Hill Range (including newly declared Barail Wildlife Sanctuary), Assam, Northeast India, Final Report. Aaranyak, Guwahati, 94 pp
  • Das, A. 2010. Systematics and biogeography of the snakes of Northeast India. PhD thesis, Utkal University, Orissa, 467 pp
  • Das, Abhijit; Uttam Saikia, B. H. C. K. Murthy, Santanu Dey and Sushil K. Dutta 2009. A herpetofaunal inventory of Barail Wildlife Sanctuary and adjacent regions, Assam, north-eastern India. Hamadryad 34 (1): 117 – 134 - get paper here
  • Hakim, J., Trageser, S. J., Ghose, A., Rashid, S. M. A., & Rahman, S. C. 2020. Amphibians and reptiles from Lawachara National Park in Bangladesh. Check List, 16: 1239 - get paper here
  • Hasan, M. K.; M. M. H. Khan and M. M. Feeroz 2014. Amphibians and Reptiles of Bangladesh— A Field Guide. Arannayk Foundation, Dhaka, 191 pp.
  • Mahony, Stephen; Md. Kamrul Hasan, Md. Mofizul Kabir, Mushfiq Ahmed and Md. Kamal Hossain. 2009. A catalogue of amphibians and reptiles in the collection of Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Hamadryad 34 (1): 80 – 94 - get paper here
  • Purkayastha J. 2013. An Amateur’s Guide to Reptiles of Assam. EBH Publishers (India) - get paper here
  • Rahman, S.C. & Ahmed M. 2012. Rhabdophis himalayanus (Himalayan Keelback) geographic distribution. Herpetological Review, 43 (1), 107
 
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