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Leptodeira approximans (GÜNTHER, 1872)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymDipsas approximans GÜNTHER 1872: 32
Eteirodipsas wieneri – SAUVAGE 1884: 146.
Leptodira annulata – BOULENGER 1896: 95 (part)
Leptodeira annulata annulata – AMARAL 1929: 78 (part)
Leptodeira approximans — COSTA et al. 2022 
DistributionEcuador, Peru, Colombia (slopes of the Andes in each country)

Type locality: Chyavetas, in upper Amazon. Restricted to Chayahuitas, province of Alto Amazonas, Loreto department, Peru, by Costa et al. 2022.  
Reproductionoviparous. Females of this species may store sperm for up to 5 years and then give birth to young (PETZOLD 1982). 
TypesSYNTYPES: BMNH 1946.1.10.3 (Fig. 4A–D) and BMNH 1946.1.10.4 (formerly and, respectively) collected by Mr. E. Bartlett. 
DiagnosisDIAGNOSIS: Leptodeira approximans can be distinguished from their South American congeners by the following combination of characters: (1) dorsal scales 17–19/17–19/11–15; (2) presubocular absent; (3) supralabial scales 7–9/7–9, (4) infralabial scales 10–11/9–11; (5) ventral counts in males 183–196 and 180–193 in females; (6) subcaudal counts in male 81–104 and 79–96 in females; (7) dorsum of the head brown generally without spots; (7) occipital region light brown to grayish brown without stripes; (8) first dorsal blotches of the body with a half-moon shape, generally fused with other dorsal blotches in the first third of body forming a zig-zag pattern; (9) number of dark brown dorsal blotches in males 27–39 and 26–45 in females; (10) number of dorsal blotches in tail in male 13–23 and 12–20 in females; (11) SVL 300–617 mm in males and 304–656 mm in females; and (12) tail long 27.48% of TTL in males and 24.79% of TTL in females.
Leptodeira aproximans differs from L. ashmeadii, L. bakeri, L. larcorum, L. ornata, L. pulchriceps, and L. tarairiu sp. nov. by the absence of dark stains in the dorsal view of the head and occipital region, but when present, it is only a medial thin line often poorly defined in the posterior edges of parietal scales extending to the middle occipital region (vs. well-defined occipital dark stains); and from L. annulata by having the basal region of the hemipenis covered by small spines that do not extend to the capitulum (vs. basal region of the hemipenis covered by small spines that extend in a line along the sulcus spermaticus). 
CommentDistribution: see map in Costa et al. 2022: Fig. 6 in Supplement S2. 
  • Amaral, A. do 1929. Contribuicao ao conhecimento dos ophidios do Brasil. IV. Lista remissiva dos ophidios do Brasil. Mem. Inst. Butantan, Sao Paulo, 4: 71-125 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp. - get paper here
  • Costa, J. C., Graboski, R., Grazziotin, F. G., Zaher, H., Rodrigues, M. T., & Prudente, A. L. D. C. 2022. Reassessing the systematics of Leptodeira (Serpentes, Dipsadidae) with emphasis in the South American species. Zoologica Scripta 51, 415– 433;Corrigendum: Zoologica Scripta 51: 614-615 - get paper here
  • Günther,A. 1872. Seventh account of new species of snakes in the collection of the British Museum. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (4) 9: 13-37 - get paper here
  • Sauvage, H.-E. 1884. Sur quelques Reptiles de la collection du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle. Bull. Soc. Philom. Paris (7) 8: 142-146 - get paper here
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