ARPHA Preprints, doi: 10.3897/arphapreprints.e77314
A new ovoviviparous rat snake species of the genus Elaphe (Squamata: Colubridae) from western Sichuan, China
expand article infoJiaJun Wang, YaYong Wu§, Qin Liu§, Guocheng Shu|, Peng Guo§, Guangxiang Zhu#
‡ Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya an, China§ Faculty of Agriculture, Forest and Food Engineering, Yibin University, Yibin, China| Yibin University, Yibin, China¶ Chengdu Institute of Biology, CAS, Chengdu, China# College of Life Sciences, Sichuan Agricultural University, Ya an, China
Open Access

The genus Elaphe is a highly diverse snake group with wide distribution in Eurasia. Here, based on morphological comparisons and molecular data, we describe a new species of this genus from western Sichuan, China. Bayesian inference and maximum-likelihood analyses of two mitochondrial DNA fragments (CO1 and 12S) showed that the new taxon differs from its congeners (CO1-based p-distance ≥ 4.1%). Morphologically and ecologically, the new species can be diagnosed from other species by a combination of the following characters: 1) medium body size, 2) midbody dorsal scales in 23 rows generally, not keeled; 3) ventrals 169–180 and subcaudal pairs 56–63; 4) first preocular docked with frontal; 5) internasal scales approximately trapezoidal; 6) length of gap between internasals more than 3/5 that between prefrontal; 7) length of tip of snout to frontal slightly larger than length of frontal; 8) ovoviviparous. Currently, the new species is known only from the Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces in China. This new species brings the total number of species in the genus Elaphe to 18.

Snake, new species, morphology, mitochondrial DNA, taxonomy, Hengduan Mountains