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

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Black-lipped groundsnake 
SynonymStegonotus melanolabiatus RUANE, RICHARDS, MCVAY, TJATURADI, KREY & AUSTIN 2017: 18
Stegonotus diehli LINDHOLM 1905 (part.)
Stegonotus melanolabiatus — KAISER et al. 2018: 58 
DistributionPapua New Guinea (Simbu and Southern Highlands Provinces)

Type locality: Doido, Chimbu (= Simbu) Province, Papua New Guinea, elevation 1300 m asl (6.550000°S, 144.833333°E)  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: AMS R115343 (field number R50; tissue ABTC 43740), adult male. Collected by S. Donnellan and K. Aplin, between 22 April and 4 May, 1984. Paratypes: AMS R122906 (field number B20; tissue ABTC 44739), collected by S. Donnellan and K. Aplin, November 1985, from Waro, Southern Highlands Province, elevation 550 m asl (6.533333°S, 143.183333°E); AMS R115361 (field number F46; tissue ABTC 43434), col- lected by S. Donnellan and K. Aplin, May 1984, from Noru, Chimbu Province, elevation 1150 m asl (6.583333°S, 144.650000°E) AMS R115320 (field number R22; tissue ABTC 43724), collected by S. Donnellan and K. Aplin, 1984, from Noru, Chimbu Province, Papua New Guinea, elevation 1150 m asl (6.533333°S, 144.850000°E). 
DiagnosisA new species of Stegonotus that can be diagnosed from its congeners by the following combination of characters: a dark grey or brownish unpatterned dorsum with a white or cream venter that includes dark grey markings, with dorsal scale pigmentation continu- ing onto some or many of the ventral scales, dark grey pigmentation on the subcaudal scales extended from the dorsal scale pigmentation, 17 dorsal scale rows at midbody (infrequently 15), the presence of two apical pits on most dorsal scales, 179−197 ventral scales and 89−98 divided subcaudal scales, one or (rarely) two preocular scales, seven or (rarely) eight supralabial scales, eight or (rarely) nine infralabial scales, with the suprala- bial and infralabial scales cream and marked with dark grey pigmentation or almost completely pigmented on the supralabials.

Comparisons: Stegonotus melanolabiatus sp. nov. is part of the S. diehli complex (Figure 3) and this taxon would have been formerly identified as S. diehli Lindholm. It differs morphologi- cally from S. diehli by typically having 17 dorsal scale rows at midbody (versus 15 in S. diehli). Stegonotus melanolabiatus sp. nov. also differs from S. diehli in having higher numbers of ventral scales (179 − 197 in S. melanolabiatus sp. nov. versus 162−174 in S. diehli) and subcaudal scales (89−98 in S. melanolabiatus sp. nov. versus 73−85 in S. diehli) for the specimens we examined (Appendix 1). It differs from the morphologi- cally similar S. derooijae sp. nov. in having (usually) one rather than two preocular scales, generally darker supralabial scales, and being found on the New Guinea mainland south of the central cordillera vs. known only from the Raja Ampat islands west of mainland New Guinea.

Comparison: For a comprehensive comparison of species, especially to the new species Stegonotus ayamaru, see that entry and Kaiser et al. 2019. 
CommentBehavior: nocturnal 
EtymologyThe species epithet comes from the Greek “melano” meaning black or dark and the Latin word “labia” for lips. The name refers to the dark coloration of the labial scales of this species. 
References
  • 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
  • Lindholm W.A. 1905. Ueber einige Eidechsen und Schlangen aus Deutsch-Neuguinea. Jahrb. nassau. Ver. lviii: 227-240 - 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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