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Atractus roulei DESPAX, 1910

IUCN Red List - Atractus roulei - Vulnerable, VU

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Roule's Ground Snake
E: Pyron’s Groundsnake [pyroni]
S: Tierrera de Pyron [pyroni] 
SynonymAtractus roulei DESPAX 1910: 370
Atractus roulei — PETERS 1960
Atractus roulei — PASSOS & ARREDONDO 2009
Atractus roulei — WALLACH et al. 2014: 80
Atractus pyroni ARTEAGA et al. 2017
Atractus roulei — PASSOS et al. 2022 
DistributionSW Ecuador, Peru (Cordillera de Huancabamba)

Type locality: Alausi, Ecuador, 2350 m elevation.

pyroni: Ecuador; Type locality: between Balzapamba and Bilován, province of Bolívar, Ecuador (S1.83601, W79.13322; 2026 m elevation).  
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 1906.0243
Holotype: MZUTI 5107 (Fig. 7), adult male collected by José L. Vieira-Fernandes and Carlos Durán on May 23, 2016 [pyroni] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A well-demarcated species of Atractus most obviously similar to A . carrioni of southeastern Ecuador. Readily distinguished from other Atractus by: (1) 15 scale rows; (2) long loreal; (3) maxillary teeth, 10-11; (4) ventrals in males, 140-145 (143), in females, 145-149 (148); and (5) uniform dark brown dorsally [from SAVAGE 1960].

For a table of morphological characters see Passos et al. 2022: 17 (Table III).

Diagnosis (pyroni). Atractus pyroni is placed in the genus Atractus as diagnosed by Savage (1960), based on phylogenetic (Fig. 1) and morphological (Table 3) evidence. It is included in the A. roulei group due to its 15/15/15 dorsal scale rows and its phylogenetic position (Fig. 1). The species is diagnosed based on the following combination of characters: (1) 15/15/15 smooth dorsals; (2) one postocular; (3) loreal long; (4) temporals 1+2; (5) six supralabials, third and fourth contacting orbit; (6) five infralabials, first four contacting chinshields (7) eight maxillary teeth; (8) 3 gular scale rows; (9) 2 preventrals; (10) 143 ventrals; (11) 16 subcaudals; (12) dorsal ground color dark brown with a series of light golden brown paravertebral scales running along the entire dorsum (Fig. 7); (13) venter dark brown with scattered scales of a lighter color; (14) 443 mm SVL; (15) 34 mm TL (ARTEAGA et al. 2017).

Comparisons (pyroni). Atractus pyroni is compared to members of the A. roulei species group: A. carrioni, A. lehmanni, and A. roulei (Fig. 2). From A. carrioni, it differs by having a loreal. From A. lehmanni and A. roulei, it differs in size and color pattern. Atractus pyroni is 443 mm in SVL; whereas A. lehmanni is 262–321 in SVL, and A. roulei is 230–396. Both A. lehmanni and A. roulei have uniform dorsal ground color, whereas A. pyroni has a distinct dorsal bicolored pattern (Fig. 7). Finally, in life, A. pyroni is darker than the remaining members of the A. roulei species group and has a ventral pattern that, instead of having fine speckles, has conspicuous scattered blotches of a contrasting color (ARTEAGA et al. 2017). 
CommentSimilar species: A. carrioni. The two species differ in the condition of the loreal shield (present in roulei, absent in carrioni); A. lehmanni (for examples of misidentifications see Passos et al. 2022). Arteaga et al. 2022 re-identified several specimens of “A. roulei” as a new species, A. michaelsabini.

Species group: Arteaga et al. 2017 defined the roulei species group as derived from a molecular phylogeny, to contain Atractus carrioni, A. lehmanni, A. pyroni sp. n. and A. roulei.

Synonymy: Passos et al. 2022 proposed synonymized A. pyroni with A. roulei.

Distribution: see map in Arteaga et al. 2022: 184 (Fig. 2) 
EtymologyNamed after Louis Roule, “Docteur es sciences. Docteur en médecine. Professeur à la Faculté des Sciences de Toulouse, a été nommé Professeur de Zoologie (Reptiles et Poissons), en remplacement de M. Léon Vaillant, admis à la retraite (Décret présidentiel du 8 juillet 1910)”.

A. pyroni was named after R. Alexander Pyron, one of the most prolific contemporary herpetologists, in recognition of his invaluable contribution to systematics and evolution of the world’s reptiles. 
  • Arteaga A, Mebert K, Valencia JH, Cisneros-Heredia DF, Peñafiel N, Reyes-Puig C, Vieira-Fernandes JL, Guayasamin JM 2017. Molecular phylogeny of Atractus (Serpentes, Dipsadidae), with emphasis on Ecuadorian species and the description of three new taxa. ZooKeys 661: 91-123. - get paper here
  • Arteaga A, Quezada A, Vieira J, Guayasamin JM 2022. Leaving no stone unturned: three additional new species of Atractus ground snakes (Serpentes, Colubridae) from Ecuador discovered using a biogeographical approach. ZooKeys 1121: 175–210 - get paper here
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Despax, R. 1910. Mission géodésique de l’Équateur. Collections recueillies par M. le Dr Rivet. Liste des ophidiens et descriptions des espèces nouvelles. (Note préliminaire.). Bull. Mus. natl. Hist. nat. Paris 16: 368-376 - get paper here
  • PASSOS P, MELO-SAMPAIO PR, RAMOS LO, GRAZZIOTIN FG, FOUQUET A & TORRES-CARVAJAL O. 2022. When the tail shakes the snake: phylogenetic affinities and morphology of Atractus badius (Serpentes: Dipsadidae), reveals some current pitfalls on the snake’s genomic age. An Acad Bras Cienc 94: e20191254 - get paper here
  • Passos, P. & Arredondo, J.C. 2009. Rediscovery and redescription of the Andean earth-snake Atractus wagleri (Reptilia: Serpentes: Colubridae). Zootaxa 1969: 59–68 - get paper here
  • Passos, Paulo; Lourdes Y. Echevarría, and Pablo J. Venegas 2013. Morphological Variation of Atractus carrioni (Serpentes: Dipsadidae). South American J. Herp. 8 (2): 109-120. - get paper here
  • Peters , J. A. 1960. The snakes of Ecuador; check list and key. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 122: 489-541 - get paper here
  • Savage,J.M. 1960. A revision of the Ecuadorian snakes of the colubrid genus Atractus. Misc. Publ. Zool. Univ. Michigan 112: 1-86 - get paper here
  • Torres-Carvajal O, Pazmiño-Otamendi G, Salazar-Valenzuela D. 2019. Reptiles of Ecuador: a resource-rich portal, with a dynamic checklist and photographic guides. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13 (1): [General Section]: 209–229 (e178) - 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.
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