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Dendrophidion brunneum (GÜNTHER, 1858)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Günther's Forest Racer 
SynonymHerpetodryas brunneus GÜNTHER 1858: 116
Dendrophidion brunneum — PETERS 1960: 122
Dendrophidion brunneum — CADLE 2010
Dendrophidion brunneum — WALLACH et al. 2014: 224
Dendrophidion brunneus — PYRON & BURBRINK 2013 
DistributionPeru (Cajamarca, Piura, Tumbes), Ecuador

Type locality: Guayaquil, Ecuador  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.1.12.98 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Dendrophidion brunneum is characterized by 17 midbody scale rows, reducing to 15 (rarely 13) posteriorly; dorsocaudal reduction from eight to six anterior to subcaudal 25; ventrals fewer than 155 in males, fewer than 170 in females; subcaudals fewer than 160. Tail 40–44 % of total length (67–80% of SVL) in males, 38–41% of total length (61–71% of SVL) in females; and dorsal coloration usually green to olive (brown or bluish in some specimens) and usually without stripes or crossbars (anterior body, especially the head, often with brighter hues or a different color from the posterior body) (Fig. 1). The everted hemipenis is unique among known hemipenes of Dendrophidion in having a greatly expanded, globose distal region and a very short segment of the hemipenial body proximal to the expanded region (see Hemipenial Morphology of Dendrophidion brunneum). Scale counts of many species of Dendrophidion overlap extensively (Lieb 1988: Table 1) and color patterns are often the most reliable characters for identifications. In D. dendrophis, D. nuchale, and D. vinitor the dorsocaudal reduction from eight to six occurs posterior to subcaudal 25. Of the species in which the dorsocaudal reduction occurs anterior to subcaudal 25, D. paucicarinatum has more than 175 ventrals (Lieb 1988), D. bivittatum (Duméril, Bibron, & Duméril) has broad blackish paravertebral stripes and distinct lateral stripes on the posterior body and tail, and D. boshelli Dunn has only 15 midbody scale rows. Confusion of D. brunneum is most likely to be with the two species distributed in the same general region in western Ecuador, D. nuchale and D. percarinatum (Lieb 1988, 1991a, 1996). Both of these species occur primarily in the lowlands, whereas D. brunneum is primarily a species of the Andean slopes (see Distribution). Dendrophidion nuchale usually has a black nuchal collar, often has pale ocelli on the posterior body, and the dorsocaudal reduction occurs posterior to subcaudal 25 (Lieb 1988, Savage 2002). Specimens of D. percarinatum from western Ecuador usually have distinct narrow (< 1 scale wide) pale crossbands anteriorly (sometimes extending for a greater portion of the body) and a variably complete longitudinal dark stripe on scale rows 2 and/or 3 posteriorly. In preserved specimens of all three species the details of color patterns can be difficult to discern. Viewing the pattern under alcohol in good light usually reveals the pale crossbands or ocelli in D. nuchale and D. percarinatum. Dendrophidion brunneum also has a rather rectangular loreal scale that is longer than tall, whereas the loreal in D. percarinatum and D. nuchale is an irregular polygon as tall as, or often taller than, it is long. 
CommentDistribution: see map in Cadle 2012 (Figure 37). 
EtymologyNamed after Latin brunneus = brown. 
  • Almendariz, A. 1991. Anfibios y Reptiles [del Ecuador]. Rev. Politecnica. XVI (3): 89-162.
  • Cadle, J.E. 2010. Systematics, natural history, and hemipenial morphology of Dendrophidion brunneum (Günther) (Serpentes: Colubridae), a poorly known snake from the Andes of Ecuador and Peru. Zootaxa 2433: 1–24 - get paper here
  • Cadle, John E. 2012. Systematics of the Neotropical Snake Dendrophidion percarinatum (Serpentes: Colubridae), With Descriptions of Two New Species from Western Colombia and Ecuador and Supplementary Data on D. brunneum. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 160 (6): 259-344. - get paper here
  • Günther, A. 1858. Catalogue of Colubrine snakes of the British Museum. London, I - XVI, 1 - 281
  • Günther,A. 1860. Third list of the col-blooded vertebrata collected by Mr. Fraser in Ecuador. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1860: 233-240 - get paper here
  • Morato, Sérgio Augusto Abrahão; Guilherme Nunes Ferreira; Michela Rossane Cavilha Scupino (eds.) 2018. Herpetofauna da Amazônia Central: Estudos na FLONA de Saracá-Taquera. Curitiba, Pr: STCP Engenharia de Projetos Ltda.; Porto Trombetas, Pa: MRN – Mineração Rio do Norte S.A., 2018. 210p. - 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
  • Pyron, R. Alexander; Frank T. Burbrink 2013. Early origin of viviparity and multiple reversions to oviparity in squamate reptiles. Ecology Letters 17 (1): 13–21 (published online 2013, in print 2014), DOI: 10.1111/ele.12168 - 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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