Resurrection of a Montane Snake from Northeast India

by Viral Mistry
Viral Mistry

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

The last decade saw a number of dedicated herpetofaunal surveys across remote regions of northeast India, which resulted in detection of snakes seen rarely or never before.

Amphiesma clerki was described as a species new to science by Frank Wall in 1925, based on a single snake collected by a Mr. Clerk from Sinlumkaba in Kachin State, Myanmar the previous year. 18 years later, Malcom Smith in his Fauna of British India, Volume III, identified that specimen as a different species, Amphiesma parallelum without any comment. This rendered Amphiesma clerki invalid, and was presumably due to the superficial similarity between both species as well as lack of specimens of A. clerki.

Patrick David from Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France, while examining snake specimens in the British Natural History Museum noted distinct characters in the Sinlumkaba specimen and suggested Amphiesma clerki might prove to be a valid species in a publication in 2005.

The last decade saw a number of dedicated herpetofaunal surveys across remote regions of northeast India, which resulted in detection of snakes seen rarely or never before. Ramana Athreya, Ashok Captain, Ishan Agarwal, Rohan Pandit and I saw and recorded data of snakes of both these species at different localities between the year 2004 and 2014. A collaborative investigation concluded the validity of Amphiesma clerki and brought more light to identification and range of both the species. This featured image of A. clerki was photographed by the author in Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh.

For more details check the abstract of the investigation published in 2015 as a research paper.



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