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Stegonotus admiraltiensis RUANE, RICHARDS, MCVAY, TJATURADI, KREY & AUSTIN, 2017

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Admiralty Archipelago groundsnake 
SynonymStegonotus admiraltiensis RUANE, RICHARDS, MCVAY, TJATURADI, KREY & AUSTIN 2017: 21
Stegonotus modestus — SCHLEGEL 1837
Stegonotus admiraltiensis — KAISER et al. 2018: 60 
DistributionPapua New Guinea (Manus Island and surrounding islands, Manus Province)

Type locality: Penchal Village on Rambutyo Island, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, elevation 58 m, (2.3283333°S, 147.7666667°E).  
TypesHolotype: LSUM 93598 (field number CCA 2087), adult male. Collected by Christopher C. Austin on 1 September 2001. Paratypes: LSUM 93599 (field number CCA 2092) and LSUM 93600 (field number CCA 2097), both collected by Christopher C. Austin on 3 September 2001 from northeast of Penchal Village on Rambutyo Island, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, elevation 100 m asl (2.3405000°S, 147.7945000°E); LSUM 93597 (field number CCA 2042), collected by C. Austin on 29 August 2001 from near Peyon Village on Los Negros Island, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, elevation 10 m asl (2.0326667°S, 147.4341667°E). 
DiagnosisStegonotus admiraltiensis can be diagnosed from its congeners by the following combi- nation of characters: a reddish-tan unpatterned dorsum with an immaculate white or cream venter that may be barely darker approaching and continuing posteriorly onto the subcaudal scales, 17 or 19 dorsal scale rows at midbody, the presence of two apical pits on most or all dorsal scales, 202−214 ventral scales and 93−98 divided subcaudal scales, two preocular scales, eight supralabial scales, nine or ten infralabial scales, with the supralabial and infralabial scales cream with little or no dark pigmentation.

Comparisons: The Manus population of Stegonotus was thought to be conspecific with S. modestus; however, in our phylogeny it is not sister to S. modestus (Figure 3). Due to the poorly supported node, it is unclear what the relationship of S. admiraltiensis is to other species in the genus. Stegonotus admiraltiensis sp. nov. differs morphologically from S. modestus by having no or little dark pigmentation on the subcaudal scales and in lacking extensive dark/grey pigmentation on the supralabial and infralabial scales, which is seen in some S. modestus. Stegonotus admiraltiensis also has two apicals pits on all or most dorsal scales, but these are absent in S. modestus. Superficially, S. admiraltiensis most closely resembles S. parvus. Both species are more tan/brown than the grey/black typical of most New Guinea Stegonotus (Figure 2), and they both have an unpatterned cream venter and no grey mottling on the labial scales. Apart from genetic differences, S. admiraltiensis differs from S. parvus in having apical pits on all or most dorsal scales, (absent in S. parvus), as well as a higher number of ventral scales (202−214 in S. admiraltiensis versus 165−196 in S. parvus).

Comparison: For a comprehensive comparison of species, especially to the new species Stegonotus ayamaru, see that entry and Kaiser et al. 2019. 
CommentBehavior: nocturnal; typical for Stegonotus, once picked up S. admiraltiensis sp. nov. rapidly attempted to bite the collector’s hand and writhed violently in a side-to-side motion (Ruane et al. 2017). 
EtymologyThe species epithet refers to the Admiralty Islands where this species is found, an archipelago of 18 islands to the north of New Guinea, comprising Manus Province, Papua New Guinea. 
  • Kaiser, Christine M.; Hinrich Kaiser & Mark O'Shea 2018. The taxonomic history of Indo-Papuan groundsnakes, genus Stegonotus Duméril et al., 1854 (Colubridae), with some taxonomic revisions and the designation of a neotype for S. parvus (Meyer, 1874). Zootaxa 4512 (1): 001–073 - get paper here
  • KAISER, CHRISTINE M.; MARK O’SHEA, HINRICH KAISER 2019. A new species of Indo-Papuan groundsnake, genus Stegonotus Duméril et al., 1854 (Serpentes, Colubridae), from the Bird’s Head Peninsula of West Papua, Indonesia, with comments on differentiating morphological characters. Zootaxa 4590 (2): 201-230 - get paper here
  • Ruane, S., Richards, S. J., McVay, J. D., Tjaturadi, B., Krey, K., & Austin, C. C. 2017. Cryptic and non-cryptic diversity in New Guinea ground snakes of the genus Stegonotus Duméril, Bibron and Duméril, 1854: a description of four new species (Squamata: Colubridae). Journal of Natural History 52: 917-944 - get paper here
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