New snake species found in northwest China's Qinling Mountains

2021-07-14 08:36:05 GMT2021-07-14 16:36:05(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

XI'AN, July 14 (Xinhua) -- A new species of the genus Elaphe was discovered by a research team mainly composed of Chinese scientists in Qinling Mountains, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, said an institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Wednesday.

Based on combined morphological and osteological characters and molecular phylogenetics, scientists described the new snake species that was named Elaphe xiphodonta.

According to the discoverers, they collected the new colubrid species from the south slope of the Qinling Mountains, which looks quite different from any of the known species but the Protobothrops jerdonii.

Detailed morphological examinations and further molecular analyses revealed that the species represents a separately evolving lineage within the genus Elaphe and can be distinguished from all congeners by morphological characters, said the scientists.

Shi Jingsong, with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, said the new species may be able to avoid predation by mimicking the pit-viper -- Protobothrops jerdonii -- explaining why scientists earlier overlooked the species.

The specimens of Elaphe xiphodonta are now stored in the institute and the Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University.

The result has been published in a recent research article in the journal ZooKeys. Enditem