Tropidolaemus laticinctus, an image contributed by Helmut Sommerauer. Reportedly photographed in Tangkoko Nature Reserve of northern Sulawesi.
This red-banded form was recently re-described by Kuch et al. 2007, in ZOOTAXA 1446: 1-20.
This 'red' Wagler's Viper from North Sulawesi has been recently re-discribed as Tropidolaemus laticinctus (see reference above). In northern Sulawesi the red form obviously occurs in the same habitats like the green Tropidolaemus subannulatus shown above. However, it is apparently a separate species.
Two Tropidolaemus species with overlapping distributions, that is interesting! What are the evolutionary forces that made this happen? So far we don't know the answer.
To date, T. laticinctus was regarded to be a red-banded species. The 2007 paper decribes females and males with similar color, banding pattern, and size (actually, only the length of the holotype is given), providing no discussion why that is so in a genus that is known to show an extreme form of sexual dimorphism. Furthermore, no evidence is provided what identifies males and females, i.e. no hemipenis or other sexual organs are presented with regard to the type specimens (such a sloppyness plagues also other species descriptions). The lack of dimorphism is used by the authors as a major feature to distinguish T. laticinctus from T. subannulatus.
So, I was wondering what a strange species of Tropidolaemus that is, until I saw the images of Kriss Kaspersen, who was so lucky to photograph a blackish-green form of T. laticinctus (see below) in its natural habitat and so kind to let me show it here. Thanks a lot, Kriss. I speculate that this is the female of T. laticinctus, whereas the red form are the males. Look at the proportions of the head and position of the eye to tell the difference between male and female...very similar to other Tropidolaemus species! If one blends out colors, banding patterns are quite similar.
Feb 2013 And, yes, here we are again!! I am very grateful to the Macaca Nigra Project of the Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, who provided me with fresh images of this stunning new species. Again, a greenish female and reddish (and smaller) male, photographed in Tangkoko National Park in North Sulawesi. See below.