Coluber melanzostus Gravenhorst, 1807

Published, First, 2012, 3473, Zootaxa 3473, pp. 1-60 : 10-12

publication ID

publication LSID


persistent identifier

treatment provided by


scientific name

Coluber melanzostus Gravenhorst, 1807


Coluber melanzostus Gravenhorst, 1807

Coluber melanzostus Gravenhorst, 1807: 402 .—Type locality, restricted by virtue of neotype designation: “Batavia, Java ”, now Jakarta, Java Island , Indonesia.—Onomatophore. Neotype, by present designation: MNHN 0060 View Materials .

Status. A valid taxon for populations of Indonesia (Java, Bali and Sumatra) .

Comments. Boie (1826: col. 206) provided a detailed description of this taxon. It was synonymized with Tropidonotus quincunciatus by Schlegel (1837: 308) but was recognized at a subspecific rank by several authors (see Smith 1943). It was raised to full species status by Das (1996), a position confirmed by Vogel & David (2007). Gravenhorst (1807: 402–403) described three varieties, identified by letters “a” to “c”. Obviously, he had at hand at least three syntypes. No type locality was given in the original description. It was subsequently stated to be “ Java ” by Boie (1826: col. 206). The three or more syntypes were deposited in the Museum of Bratislava. They are at present untraced and were obviously destroyed. According to W. Böhme (pers. comm., January 2009), Gravenhorst was working in Bratislava; the collection his book was based upon was later given to this museum ( Adler 1989). The largest part of the old collection of Bratislava was destroyed during the Second World War.

We consider Xenochrophis melanzostus a variable species, containing either striped or blotched individuals. In order to associate the specific nomen melanzostus with the striped phase, we design a neotype for Coluber melanzostus Gravenhorst, 1807 in order to fix the nomenclatural status of this taxon. In agreement with the various dispositions of Article 75.3 of the Code and based on (1) the need to fix the status of Coluber melanzostus Gravenhorst, 1807 and associate this combination with Indonesian specimens showing a striped dorsal pattern, (2) the destruction of the syntypes, which are definitely not present in museums according to the curator of the collection of Bratislava, (M. Rybecký in litt.) (3) the morphological similarity of the selected neotype with one of the phase described by Gravenhorst, (4) the origin of the neotype from the same locality as the syntypes, we designate a neotype of Coluber melanzostus Gravenhorst.

Neotype ( Figs. 2–4): MNHN 0060 View Materials , an adult female from “Batavia”, now Jakarta, Java Island, Indonesia. Collected by Mr. Méder.

Morphology and measurements. The body is elongate but robust; head elongate, moderately distinct from the thick neck; snout long, narrowing anteriorly, about 1.8 times eye diameter, without distinct canthus rostralis; nares small, crescentic, piercing upper half of nasal, directed obliquely upwards; eye large, diameter about 1.5 times eyelip distance, round pupil; tail average for the genus, thick, tapering. SVL 605 mm, Tal 200 mm, TL 805 mm; ratio TaL / TL 0.248; HL 33.6 mm.

Maxillary teeth. On left, 25 teeth, posterior ones only slightly larger than anterior ones, and row continuous.

Scalation. DSR 19–19–17 (first reduction at left at VEN 77), distinctly keeled except for the two ventralmost scale rows on each side; 1st DSR much enlarged; VEN 139 (+ 2 pVEN); SC 70, all paired; anal divided. Rostral wider than high, well visible from above; nasals large, subrectangular, divided below nostril; internasals small, triangular, distinctly narrowing anteriorly, as long as prefrontals; prefrontal very short, 0.4 time as long as frontal; frontal pentagonal, about 1.8 longer than wide; parietals long and wide, 1.2 times as long as frontal; 1 / 1 loreal small, slightly higher than long; 9 / 9 SL, SL 1–2 in contact with nasal, 2–3 in contact with loreal, SL 4–5 entering orbit, SL 8 largest; 1 / 1 PreOc, 3 / 3 PostOc, no subocular; temporals 2+3 / 2+3, lower anterior one large and elongate, upper posterior one in broad contact with parietal; 10 / 10 IL, first pair in contact, IL 1–5 in contact with anterior chin shields; anterior chin shields shorter than posterior shields.

Colour and pattern (in preservative). Dorsal surface of body and tail pale yellowish-grey, with many scales of DSR 5–6 (counted from the ventrals) edged with dark brown, brighter and paler on lower half of DSR 2, with a pair of conspicuous, longitudinal chestnut brown stripes extending from neck to base of tail on each side, as follows: a broad stripe on upper half of DSR 2, DSR 3 and lower half of DSR 4, becoming progressively narrower posteriorly and eventually covering only upper half of DSR 2 and lower half of DSR 3; a narrower stripe on upper half of DSR 6 and all of DSR 7, broad and solid anteriorly but quickly narrowing and coloured in its middle with pale yellowish-grey on much of DSR 7, so as to appear as two narrow, parallel brown lines separated by a pale yellowish-grey area, especially posteriorly; a vertebral stripe, entirely pale yellowish-grey anteriorly, briefly edged with dark chestnut-brown and appearing as two narrow chestnut-brown stripes widely separated by a narrow, irregular pale yellowish-grey stripe; lower posterior margin of scales of DSR 1 clouded with dark grey. Tail as body above but with various chestnut-brown lines reduced spots or dark edges of scales.

Head greyish-olive, darker than body, nearly uniformly coloured except lower part of supralabials, somewhat paler, and of a very faint, dark brown oblique marking on top and posterior edge of SL 6 below each eye; a conspicuous sagittal, elongate cream, brown-edged streak just behind limit of parietal; a conspicuous, vertical chestnut-brown crossbar behind posterior end of upper jaw, connected to upper dorsal stripe and not reaching ventrals, which look like a widely open “V” when see from above. Chin and throat uniformly pale yellowish-grey. Venter pale yellowish-grey, tips and anterior margins of ventrals with dark brown margins, producing conspicuous crossbars. Tail as venter with narrow, dark chestnut-brown crossbars.














Coluber melanzostus Gravenhorst, 1807

Published, First 2012

Coluber melanzostus

Gravenhorst, J. L. C. 1807: 402