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Epictia ater TAYLOR, 1940

IUCN Red List - Epictia ater - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaLeptotyphlopidae, Epictinae, Epictini, Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Common NamesBlack Blind Snake 
SynonymStenostoma albifrons — COPE 1887: 63 (part)
Glauconia albifrons — BOULENGER 1893: 63 (part)
Leptotyphlops albifrons — AMARAL 1930: 138 (part)
Leptotyphlops (= Glauconia) albifrons — WETTSTEIN 1934: 31 (part)
Leptotyphlops ater TAYLOR 1940
Leptotyphlops nasalis TAYLOR 1940: 535
Leptotyphlops ater — TAYLOR 1955
Leptotyphlops albifrons ater — COCHRAN 1961: 194
Leptotyphlops albifrons nasalis — COCHRAN 1961: 194
Leptotyphlops phenops — CAMPBELL & HOWELL 1965: 133
Leptotyphlops bakewelli — LIST 1966: 6
Leptotyphlops goudotii ater - PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970
Leptotyphlops goudotii phenops — PETERS et al. 1970 (part)
Leptotyphlops goudotii phenops — PETERS et al. 1986: 170 (part)
Leptotyphlops goudotti (sic) — SAVAGE 1973: 13
Leptotyphlops goudoti ater — SMITH & SMITH 1976
Leptotyphlops goudoti — HAHN 1979: 2–3 (part)
Leptotyphlops goudotii — SAVAGE 1980: 16
Leptotyphlops goudotti (sic) ater — HAHN 1980: 15
Leptotyphlops goudotti (sic) phenops — VILLA 1983: 37
Leptothyphlops (sic) goudotii — GREENE 1999: 149
Leptotyphlops nasalis — VILLA 1990
Leptotyphlops nasalis — MCDIARMID et al. 1999: 38
Leptotyphlops ater — SAVAGE 2002: 558
Leptotyphlops goudutii (sic) — ALEMÁN-MEJÍA 2008: 101 (part).
Epictia ater — MCCRANIE 2009: 16
Leptotyphlops ater — SAVAGE & BOLANOS 2009
Epictia nasalis — ADALSTEINSSON et al. 2009
Epictia goudotii — WILSON & JOHNSON 2010: 101 (part)
Epictia nasalis — WILSON & JOHNSON 2010: 101
Epictia ater — MCCRANIE 2011
Epictia goudotii ater — ÇINAR 2012: 121
Crishagenus nasalis — HOSER 2012: 33
Epictia ater — WALLACH et al. 2014: 275
Epictia ater — MCCRANIE & HEDGES 2016
Epictia ater — WALLACH 2016: 226 
DistributionGuatemala (Izabel); W Honduras (Choluteca, Comayagua, Copán, Cortés, Francisco Morazán, Gracias a Dios, Intibucá, Lempira, Santa Barbara, Valle, Yoro, including Isla Zacate Grande, elev. NSL–1,350 m); El Salvador (Morazán, San Miguel, San Salvador, 250–960 m); W Nicaragua (Carazo, Chinandega, Estelí, Granada, Managua, Rivas, elev. 40–1,100 m); and NW Costa Rica (Alajuela, Guanacaste, N Puntarenas, including Islas Murciélagos, San José, elev. NSL–1,125 m), overall elevevation 0–1,350 m

Type locality: Managua, Nicaragua.

nasalis: Nicaragua; Type locality: Managua,Nicaragua. Map legend:
TDWG region - Region according to the TDWG standard, not a precise distribution map.

NOTE: TDWG regions are generated automatically from the text in the distribution field and not in every cases it works well. We are working on it.
TypesHolotype: USNM 79947
Holotype: USNM 16134 [nasalis] 
CommentSynonymy: after Wallach 2016. See this paper for more complete chresonomy and references. Both Leptotyphlops ater Taylor, 1940 and L. nasalis Taylor, 1940 were described from Managua, Nicaragua. As first revisers, Dunn and Saxe (1950), who considered the taxa synonymous, selected E. ater as the name for the Nicaraguan population.

Distribution: see map in MCCRANIE & HEDGES 2016: Fig. 4 and WALLACH 2016: 231 (Map 1).

Diagnosis. Epictia ater, along with E. bakewelli, are the two species of this complex under study herein to have the rostral fused with the frontal (prefrontal) scale, thus the fused rostral-frontal scale contacts the postfrontal scale. Epictia ater differs most obviously from E. bakewelli in having the ventral surfaces essentially the same color as the dorsal surfaces (versus underside of head and about anterior third of venter distinctly paler brown than the brown dorsal surfaces in E. bakewelli). Epictia ater also differs from E. bakewelli in having the dark body stripes absent or indistinct (versus those stripes distinct in E. bakewelli). The single E. ater specimen with a frontal scale differs from two of the three species that also have a frontal scale, E. goudotii and E. magnamaculata, as follows: from E. goudotii in having the pale tail spot, when present, much larger ventrally than dorsally (versus tail spot larger dorsally than ventrally when present in E. goudotii); from E. magnamaculata in lacking distinct black body stripes and having the pale tail spot, when present, much larger ventrally than dorsally (versus distinct black stripes present and pale tail spot usually larger dorsally than ventrally in E. magnamaculata). A specimen of E. ater with a frontal scale can be difficult to distinguish morphologically from the normal E. phenops [MCCRANIE & HEDGES 2016: 17].

Diagnosis: (1) scale row formula = 14-14-14; (2) midtail scale rows = 10; (3) total length = 72–183 (x– = 125.4) mm; (4) total middorsals = 212–266 (x– = 237.3); (5) subcaudals = 14–22 (x– = 18.4); (6) relative body pro- portion = 41–74 (x– = 52.3); (7) relative tail length = 4.2%–8.7% (x– = 6.2%); (8) relative tail width = 2.2–4.8 (x– = 3.5); (9) relative rostral width = 0.34–0.56 (x– = 0.41); (10) relative eye size = 0.38–0.53 (x– = 0.46); (10) rostral waisted with a posterior constriction and triangular arrowhead-shaped apex; (11) supralabials 2, moderate anterior supralabial reaching mid-eye level but not in contact with supraocular; (12) frontal fused with rostral, apex triangu- lar; (13) supraoculars large and pentagonal, twice as broad as deep, with posterior border parallel to that of supra- nasal; (14) widest anteriormost vertebral scale 4th; (15) parietals and occipitals subequal, oriented transversely; (16) infralabials 4; (17) cloacal shield subtriangular in shape; (18) head brown with a small pale spot on upper rostral; (19) dorsum uniform brown to black, with or without pale scale edges (no stripes); (20) venter uniform brown to pale brown; (21) midbody stripe formula (U or O) and middorsal pattern (U or O); (22) tail with a pale terminal spot covering 0–3 (x– = 2.3) dorsocaudals and 6.5–17.5 (x– = 11.7) subcaudals (ventral/dorsal ratio 5.1); and (23) apical termination usually in a small spine (Wallach 2016: 227).

Habitat: This species frequents pine-oak forest in El Salvador (Köhler et al., 2006). In Honduras it inhab- its lower montane rainforest, evergreen and semi-evergreen seasonal forest, tropical deciduous forest, short-tree savanna, and thorn woodland (Johnson, 1989), subtropical wet forest, hardwood cloud forest, and humid pine-oak forest (Wilson et al., 2001) and lowland arid, dry and moist forest, and premontane dry and moist forest (McCranie, 2011). In Nicaragua it occurs in lowland arid forest and premontane wet forest (Sunyer and Köhler, 2010) and dry tropical forest (Guevara-Alonso, 2012). In Costa Rica it is found within lowland dry forests and wet premontane wet forests (Bolaños et al., 2005; Sasa et al., 2010; from Wallach 2016: 231). 
Etymologynamed after its coloration, from Latin “ater”, meaning black. 
  • Adalsteinsson, S.A.; Branch, W.R.; Trapé, S.; Vitt, L.J. & Hedges, S.B. 2009. Molecular phylogeny, classification, and biogeography of snakes of the Family Leptotyphlopidae (Reptilia, Squamata). Zootaxa 2244: 1-50 - get paper here
  • Cochran, Doris M. 1961. Type specimens of reptiles and amphibians in the United States National Museum. Bull. US Natl. Mus. (220): xvi + 291 pp. - get paper here
  • FRANCISCO, BÁRBARA CRISTINA S.; ROBERTA R. PINTO & DANIEL S. FERNANDES 2012. Taxonomy of Epictia munoai (Orejas-Miranda, 1961) (Squamata: Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae). Zootaxa 3512: 42–52 - get paper here
  • Hahn,D.E. 1980. Liste der rezenten Amphibien und Reptilien. Anomalepididae, Leptotyphlopidae, Typhlopidae. Das Tierreich, De Gruyter (Berlin) 101: 45
  • McCranie JR, Hedges SB. 2016. Molecular phylogeny and taxonomy of the Epictia goudotii Species complex (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae: Epictinae) in Middle America and northern South America. PeerJ 4:e1551 - get paper here
  • McCranie, James R. 2015. A checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Honduras, with additions, comments on taxonomy, some recent taxonomic decisions, and areas of further studies needed. Zootaxa 3931 (3): 352–386 - get paper here
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • Peters, James A.; Donoso-Barros, Roberto & Orejas-Miranda, Braulio 1970. Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: Part I Snakes. Part II Lizards and Amphisbaenians. Bull. US Natl. Mus. 297: 347 pp. - get paper here
  • Savage, J.M. 2002. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna Between Two Continents, Between Two Seas. University of Chicago Press, 934 pp. [review in Copeia 2003 (1): 205]
  • Savage, J.M. & Bolaños, F. 2009. A checklist of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: Additions and nomenclatural revisions. Zootaxa 2005: 1–23 - get paper here
  • Solís, J. M., L. D. Wilson, and J. H. Townsend. 2014. An updated list of the amphibians and reptiles of Honduras, with comments on their nomenclature. Mesoamerican Herpetology 1: 123–144 - get paper here
  • Stark, Tariq; Carlijn Laurijssens, and Martijn Weterings 2014. Distributional and natural history notes on five species of amphibians and reptiles from Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua. Mesoamerican Herpetology 1 (2): 308 - get paper here
  • Sunyer, Javier 2014. An updated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Nicaragua. Mesoamerican Herpetology 1 (2): 186–202. - get paper here
  • Taylor,E.H. 1940. Herpetological miscellany, no. I. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 26 [1939] (15): 489-571 - get paper here
  • Taylor,E.H. 1955. Additions to the known herpetological fauna of Costa Rica with comments on other species. No. II. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 37: 499-575. - get paper here
  • Villa J D 1990. Leptotyphlops nasalis Taylor. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles ( 473: 1 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van. 2016. Morphological review and taxonomic status of the Epictia phenops species group of Mesoamerica, with description of six new species and discussion of South American Epictia albifrons, E. goudotii, and E. tenella (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae: Epictinae Mesoamerican Herpetology 3 (2): 216-374 - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
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