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Smithophis linearis VOGEL, CHEN, DEEPAK, GOWER, SHI, DING & HOU, 2020

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Jingpo mountain stream snake, Lined smithophis
G: Jingpo Gebirgsbachnatter
Chinese: 线纹溪蛇 (Xiàn Wén Xī Shé) 
SynonymSmithophis linearis VOGEL, CHEN, DEEPAK, GOWER, SHI, DING & HOU 2020
Ablabes bicolor — ANDERSON 1879: 809
Pseudocyclophis bicolor — BOULENGER 1890: 300) (in part)
Rhabdops bicolor — WALL 1925: 810
Rhabdops bicolor — WALL 1926: 561
Rhabdops bicolor — POPE 1935: 176 (in part)
Rhabdops bicolor — SMITH 1943: 328 (in part)
Rhabdops bicolor — GIRI et al. 2019: 245 (in part) 
DistributionChina (Yunnan)

Type locality: Nabang Town (24°43'18.78"N, 97°35'03.12"E), Yingjiang County, Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, People’s Republic of China, elevation ca. 467 m a.s.l.  
TypesHolotype. KIZ 059110, an adult female, collected by Mian Hou on 10th August 2015.
Paratypes (n = 3). ZSIK 4194, an adult male from Muangla (now Jiucheng Town: 24°44'29.12"N, 98°04'38.97"E, 849 m), Yunnan Province, People’s Republic of China, collected 1868 based on Anderson’s (1876) report of his expedition during which he visited Muangla in the first of two (1868 and 1875) expeditions. BMNH 1925.12.22.41 (Fig. 9) and BMNH 1925.12.22.42 (Fig. 10), adult males, from Huton [now Hutung], Kachin State, Myanmar (ca. 24.25° N, 97.52° E, ca. 1,500 m).
Additional specimens: Wall (1925, 1926) reported four specimens (as Rhabdops bicolor) from Huton, Kachin Hills, Myanmar. Two specimens from Wall were accessioned into the BMNH collection on 22 December 1925, with locality data of “Huton, Kachin Hills”. On the basis of subcaudal scale counts, the two BMNH specimens are probably the two larger (of three) specimens reported by Wall (1926). The current whereabouts of the other two specimens reported by Wall (1925, 1926) is unknown. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Smithophis linearis sp. nov. differs from the two other nominal species of Smithophis in having six or more scales (excluding supralabials) contacting the eye (versus 5 in S. bicolor and 4 in S. atemporalis) and in having a colour pattern comprising parallel, narrow, pale and very dark lines along the upper part of the body and tail. The new species is further distinguished from S. atemporalis by having (versus lacking) temporals. In terms of genetic divergence, Smithophis linearis sp. nov. differs from S. bicolor and S. atemporalis by a p-distance of >10% (cytb gene) (Vogel et al. 2020).

Coloration. In life, upper dorsal surface dark greyish-brown with bronze tints; lowest five dorsal scale rows (especially lowest two) paler bronze-brown or greenish-yellowish-brown. Upper and lower edges of each upper dorsal scale dark brown, forming 10 narrow dark lines, extending back from shortly behind head. Dark lines slightly wider and darker, more continuous dorsally; lines somewhat more conspicuous posteriorly and onto tail, extending to tail tip. On body, scales of 1st DSR bronze-brown with substantial patches of the same pale ochre-brown colour as venter; smaller pale ochre-brown patches also on 2nd DSR. Dorsal surface of tail mostly dark greyish-brown, as dorsum.
Head background colour mostly pale bronze-brown as sides of body, darker greyish-brown on snout and most of frontal. Supralabials dark greyish-brown with yellowish-ochre towards lower margins (only anteriorly so on 6th SL), and posteroventral margins of first four SLs. Infralabials brownish with paler yellowish-ochre posterior and (to a lesser degree) upper margins. Except for infralabials, underside of head mostly pale, though anterior genials brownish centrally, anteriorly and medially. Some irregular brownish speckling.
Venter of body uniform pale ochre, with diffuse brown speckles forming zig-zag along the upper margin of ventral scales. Ventral surface of tail pale ochre to cream, with some brown speckling, more so posteriorly, concentrated along midline in irregular zig-zag pattern along contacts between subcaudal scales of each side. In preservative, colour and pattern similar though somewhat darker, especially on venter (Vogel et al. 2020). 
EtymologyThe species epithet is the Latin adjective linearis (-e), meaning “with lines”, in reference to the narrow pale and dark lines along the upper part of the body. 
  • Anderson, J. 1879. Reptilia and amphibia. In: Anatomical and Zoological Researches: Comprising an Account of the Zoological Results of the Two Expeditions to Western Yunnan in 1868 and 1875. Volume I. [pages 703-860, 969-975 index.]. Bernard Quarich, London, Vol. I: 705– 860,[1878] - get paper here
  • DAS A, Deepak V, Captain A, Wade EOZ, Gower DJ. 2020. Description of a new species of Smithophis Giri et al. 2019 (Serpentes: Colubridae: Natricinae) from Arunachal Pradesh, India. Zootaxa 4860 (2): 267-283 - get paper here
  • GIRI, VARAD B.; DAVID J. GOWER, ABHIJIT DAS, H.T. LALREMSANGA, SAMUEL LALRONUNGA, ASHOK CAPTAIN, V. DEEPAK 2019. A new genus and species of natricine snake from northeast India. Zootaxa 4603 (2): 241-264 - get paper here
  • Smith, M.A. 1943. The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including the Whole of the Indo-Chinese Sub-Region. Reptilia and Amphibia. 3 (Serpentes). Taylor and Francis, London. 583 pp.
  • VOGEL, G., CHEN, Z., DEEPAK, V., GOWER, D. J., SHI, J., DING, L., & HOU, M. 2020. A new species of the genus Smithophis (Squamata: Serpentes: Natricidae) from southwestern China and northeastern Myanmar. Zootaxa 4803 (1): 51-74 - get paper here
  • Wall, F. 1926. Snakes collected in Burma in 1925. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 31 (3): 558–566
  • Wall, FRANK 1925. Notes on snakes collected in Burma in 1924. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 30 (4): 805-821. - get paper here
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