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Integrative Taxonomy Reveals a New Cryptic Species of Xenopeltis Gray, 1831 (Ophidia: Macrostomata: Pythonoidea: Xenopeltidae) from Central Highlands, Vietnam

Nikolai L. Orlov, Pavel B. Snetkov, Oleg A. Ermakov, Tao Thien Nguyen, Natalia B. Ananjeva


Herein, we describe a new cryptic snake species of the genus Xenopeltis from Central Highlands of Vietnam: Kon Plông District, Kon Tum Province based both on morphological and molecular data. Xenopeltis intermedius sp. nov. is distinguished from the two known species by a combination of the following morphological characters. Xenopeltis intermedius sp. nov. differs from X. unicolor and X. hainanensis by the number of ventrals and subcaudals. The skull is less elongated than in X. unicolor and somewhat more elongate than in X. hainanensis. X. intermedius demonstrates differences in size, shape proportions and relief of the parietal bone and the number of teeth from X. hainanensis and X. unicolor. We provide a COI-based estimation of diversity of the genus Xenopeltis. Genetic divergence (p-distance) between Xenopeltis sp. nov. from Kon Tum Province, Central Highlands region of Vietnam, and two other congeners was 5.7% (for X. hainanensis) and 12.9% (for X. unicolor). The new species is currently known only from one locality from Central Highland and was recorded from 1500 to 2500 m a.s.l. in the evergreen polydominant forests in the mountainous regions of Kon Tum Province. This is the third species of Xenopeltis from Vietnam.


Xenopeltis intermedius sp. nov.; xenopeltid snakes; taxonomy; morphology; Central Highland; Vietnam; cytochrome c oxidase subunit I

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