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Arrhyton procerum HEDGES & GARRIDO, 1992

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Alsophiini, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Zapata Long-tailed Racerlet, Zapata Long-tailed Groundsnake 
SynonymArrhyton procerum HEDGES & GARRIDO 1992: 174
Arrhyton procerum — CROTHER 1999
Arrhyton procerum — ZAHER et al. 2009
Arrhyton procerum — WALLACH et al. 2014: 56
Arrhyton procerum — DÍAZ et al. 2021 

Type locality: "11 .4 km ESE Playa Girón, Matanzas Prov., Cuba, 0 m"  
TypesHolotype: MNHNCU (also given as MNFINCU) 3285 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A slender, long-tailed species of Arrhyton distinguished from all other species in the genus by its very high subcaudal count (140). Additionally, it can be distinguished from non-Cuban species by its midbody scale rows (17 versus 19). Among Cuban species, all with 17 rows, it can be separated from A. taenia tu m by fewer ventra Is (142 versus 168-189), the presence of a loreal scale, and a very different pattern (Fig. 3A). Arrhyton vittatum and A. supernum have fewer ventrals (107-123 and 124-128, respectively) and are stouter and darker snakes with a different pattern (Figs. 1,2). Arrhyton ainictum and A, landoi also are larger (males to 363 and 238 mm SVL, respectively, versus versus 207 mm in A, procerum) and heavierbodied, and have considerably fewer subcaudals (108 and 71-111, respectively). The two other species endemic to western Cuba (besides A. procerum) require the closest comparison. Both A. dolichura and A. tanyplectum are larger (males to 233 and 306 mm SVL, respectively) and stouter than A, procerum, although it is unknown whether the shorter SVL of the holotype and only known specimen of A. procerum is typical of adults. Arrhyton dolichura also has fewer ventrals (123-132 versus 142), fewer subcaudals (101-127 versus 140), a wider, more distinct head, broader parietal scales, loreal contact with supralabials one and two [two (left) and 2- 3 (right) in procerum], and it is a darker snake with a more distinct pattern-including a wider band on the side of the head (Fig. 3B). Arrhyton dolichura apparently is restricted to La Habana and its immediate vicinity, about 180 km from the type-locality of A. procerum. Arrhyton tanyplectum is found further to the west in the Sierra dellos Organos (Pinar del Rio Prov.), about 300 km from A. procerum. It has a similar number of ventra Is (138- 149) and only a slightly smaller number of subcaudals (121-136) than A. procerum. However, it is a darker snake with a distinctive "braided" appearance, resulting from light-edged dorsal scales (Schwartz and Henderson, 1985: their Fig. 83). In A. procerum, the dorsal scales are light gray with flecks of dark brown. The stripes in A. tanyplectum are much more distinct, made up of solid dark brown pigment, cam pared with flecks of brown comprising the stripes in A. procerum. The head patterns of these two species are very different: A. tanyplectum has a nearly uniform dark head whereas A, procerum has the typical Arrhyton cephalic "cap". Although faint indication of this cap and lateral stripes are visible in A. tanyplectum, the lateral head stripes are wider and continuous, not narrow and broken as in A. procerum. Also, A. procerum has a more narrow head and protrusive rostral than A. tanyplectum (from Hedges & Garrido 1992: 174). 
CommentDistribution: see map in Díaz et al. 2021: Fig. 5. 
EtymologyNamed after the Latin procerus, meaning long and slender, in reference to the distinctive habitus of this species. 
  • DÍAZ, L. M., FONG G., A., SALAS, D., & HEDGES, S. B. 2021. A new semifossorial snake of the genus Arrhyton (Squamata: Dipsadidae) from eastern Cuba, with taxonomic comments on other species. Zootaxa 5052 (3): 406-418 - get paper here
  • Hedges, S. B. and O. H. Garrido. 1992. Cuban snakes of the genus Arrhyton: two new species and a reconsideration of A. redimitum Cope. Herpetologica 48: 168-177 - get paper here
  • Rodríguez Schettino, Lourdes, Carlos A. Mancina & Vilma Rivalta González 2013. REPTILES OF CUBA: CHECKLIST AND GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTIONS. Smithsonian Herp. Inf. Serv. (144): 1-96 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Zaher, Hussam; Grazziotin, Felipe Gobbi; Cadle, John E.; Murphy, Robert W.; Moura-Leite, Julio Cesar de; Bonatto, Sandro L 2009. Molecular phylogeny of advanced snakes (Serpentes, Caenophidia) with an emphasis on South American Xenodontines: a revised classification and descriptions of new taxa. Pap. Avulsos Zool. (São Paulo) 49 (11): 115-153 - get paper here
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