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Micrurus elegans JAN, 1858

IUCN Red List - Micrurus elegans - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesMicrurus elegans elegans (JAN 1858)
Micrurus elegans veraepacis K.P. SCHMIDT 1933 
Common NamesE: Elegant Coral Snake
E: Western elegant coral snake [elegans]
E: Verapaz elegant coral snake [veraepacis]
S: Coralillo Elegante 
SynonymMicrurus elegans elegans (JAN 1858)
Elaps elegans JAN 1858
Elaps elegans — GARMAN 1884: 108
Micrurus elegans elegans — ALVAREZ DEL TORO & SMITH 1956: 16
Micrurus elegans elegans — LINER 1994
Micrurus elegans elegans — LINER 2007
Micrurus elegans — WALLACH et al. 2014: 446

Micrurus elegans veraepacis K.P. SCHMIDT 1933
Micrurus elegans veraepacis K.P. SCHMIDT 1933
Micrurus elegans veraepacis — ALVAREZ DEL TORO & SMITH 1956: 16
Micrurus elegans veraepacis — LINER 1994
Micrurus elegans veraepacis — LINER 2007 
DistributionMexico (Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Puebla), Guatemala

elegans: Mexico (C Veracruz east Oaxaca to W Tabasco); Type locality: Mexico

veraepacis: Mexico (Tabasco, Chiapas) to Guatemala (Alta Verapaz)  
TypesSyntypes: MRSN (= MSNTO = MZUT), a 495 mm male, ZFMK/SUB, a 490 mm female, and MSNM, a 470 mm female, other two unknown.
Holotype: ZSM 2247/0 (given as "2247a" in the original description) (lost), male, from "Campur, Alta Vera Paz, Guatemala", collected by K. Sapper, 1899; paratypes: ZSM 2245/0 (given as "2245" in the original description), 1 specimen, from "Guatemala", collected by K. Sapper, 1907; ZSM 2247/0 (given as "2247b" in the original description) (lost), 1 specimen, same data as holotype; ZSM 2248/0/1-3 (given as "2248" in the original description), 3 specimens, from "Campur, Guatemala" collected by K. Sapper, 1899; ZSM 2249/0 (given as "2249" in the original description) (lost), 2 specimens, from "Coban, Guatemala", collected by K. Sapper, no date; additional paratypes in BMNH, MNHN, and NMBA [veraepacis] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A coral snake of the genus Micrurus with the normal body form and arrangement of scales; pattern extremely complex (fig. 34), with black rings in groups of three (triads), the rings subequal above, the outer rings in each triad narrowed below, with corresponding widening of the red ring intervening between triads; the outer black rings of each triad separated from the middle one by narrow yellow rings split by a black one; the triad pattern lost on the tail, where equally wide black rings are separated by double yellow rings. The black head crossed by a narrow yellow ring behind the eyes and behind the parietals, the two black portions of the head with the nuchal ring composing a somewhat obscure first triad. The red rings often divided by a narrow black ring [from SCHMIDT 1958].

Original description (free translation from the French).—Our museum has received five specimens of this species from Mexico, all identical in pattern. The snout is black; behind the eye, a white band extends onto the postoculars and the anterior part of the parietals, interrupted medially. Except for the fifth and sixth upper labials, the third and fourth lower labials, and the chin shields, which are white, the rest of the head is black as far as the neck. At this point there is a series of white scales arranged like a necklace of pearls; behind this there is a large black triangular marking, followed by a light band (red), extending for three or four scale-lengths, in which the tips of the scales are black. From this point there are thirteen or fourteen groups of triple black bands [triads], which tend to be confluent beneath, each [individual] band extending over three or four scales and separated from each other by a single series of white scales [really by a double series, cf. plate]. The spaces between the triads are 4 scales long, and there are large black spots in these [red] bands on the ventral surface. The tail is black, with six white rings formed by a single series of scales [from SCHMIDT 1958]. 
EtymologyLatin elegans means elegant or fine, alluding to its very rich color pattern.

The name veraepacis denotes its distribution or presence in Verapaz, Guatemala, from where it was originally described. 
  • Aguilar-López JL, Luría-Manzano R, Pineda E, Canseco-Márquez L 2021. Selva Zoque, Mexico: an important Mesoamerican tropical region for reptile species diversity and conservation. ZooKeys 1054: 127-153 - get paper here
  • Álvarez DEL TORO, M., & SMITH, H. M. 1956. Notulae herpetologicae Chiapasiae. I. Herpetologica 12: 3-17 - get paper here
  • Blaney, R. M. ;Blaney, P. K. 1978. Notes on three species of Micrurus (Serpentes: Elapidae) from Mexico. Herpetological Review 9 (3): 92 - get paper here
  • Campbell, J.A. & Lamar, W.W. 1989. The Venomous Reptiles of Latin America. Comstock Publishing/Cornell University Press, Ithaca
  • Casas-Andreu, G., F.R. Méndez-De la Cruz and X. Aguilar-Miguel. 2004. Anfibios y Reptiles; pp. 375–390, in A.J.M. García-Mendoza, J. Ordoñez and M. Briones-Salas (ed.). Biodiversidad de Oaxaca. Instituto de Biología, UNAM-Fondo Oaxaqueño para la Conservación de la Naturaleza-World Wildlife Fund, México, D. F.
  • Garman, Samuel 1884. The reptiles and batrachians of North America. Mem. Mus. comp. Zool, Cambridge (Massachusetts), 8 (3): xxxiv + 185 pp. [1883] [CNAH reprint 10] - get paper here
  • Guerra Centeno, Dennis; Héctor Fuentes Rousselin & David Morán Villatoro 2012. Serpientes de Guatemala: Guía para didentificación de especies. Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, 186 pp.
  • Heimes, P. 2016. Snakes of Mexico. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 572 pp
  • Jan, G. 1858. Plan d'une iconographie descriptive des ophidiens et description sommaire de nouvelles espèces des serpents. Rev. Mag. Zool. Paris (2) 10: 438-449, 514-527 - get paper here
  • Johnson, Jerry D.; Vicente Mata-Silva, Elí García Padilla, and Larry David Wilson 2015. The Herpetofauna of Chiapas, Mexico: composition, distribution, and conservation. Mesoamerican Herpetology 2 (3): 272–329. - get paper here
  • Liner, Ernest A. 2007. A CHECKLIST OF THE AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF MEXICO. Louisiana State University Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural Science 80: 1-60 - get paper here
  • Mata-Silva, Vicente, Jerry D. Johnson, Larry David Wilson and Elí García-Padilla. 2015. The herpetofauna of Oaxaca, Mexico: composition, physiographic distribution, and conservation status. Mesoamerican Herpetology 2 (1): 6–62 - get paper here
  • Muñoz-Alonso, Luis Antonio; Jorge Nieblas-Camacho,<br />Marina Alba Chau-Cortez, Alondra Berenice González-Navarro, Jaime López-Pérez & Juan Pérez-López 2017. Diversidad de anfibios y reptiles en la Reservade la Biosfera Selva El Ocote: su vulnerabilidad ante la fragmentación y el cambio climático. In: Lorena Ruiz-Montoya et al. (eds), Vulnerabilidad social y biológica ante el cambio climático en la Re El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, pp.395-448 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, K. P. 1932. A new subspecies of coral snake from Guatemala. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. 20: 265-67. - get paper here
  • Schmidt, K. P. 1933. Preliminary account of the coral snakes of Central America and Mexico. Field Mus. Nat. Hist. Zool. Ser. 20: 29-40. - get paper here
  • Schmidt, K. P. 1936. Notes on Central American and Mexican coral snakes. Field Mus. Nat. Hist. Zool. Ser. 20: 205-216. - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Karl P. 1958. Some rare or little-known Mexican coral snakes. Fieldiana: Zoology 39 (19): 201-212 - get paper here
  • Silva Jr, Nelson Jorge da; Marcus Augusto Buononato & Darlan Tavares Feitosa 2016. AS COBRAS-CORAIS DO NOVO MUNDO. In: Silva (ed) Cobras corais do Brasil. Goiânia, pp. 41-69
  • Simón-Salvador PR, Arreortúa M, Flores CA, Santiago-Dionicio H, González-Bernal E 2021. The role of Indigenous and Community Conservation Areas in herpetofauna conservation: a preliminary list for Santa Cruz Tepetotutla, Oaxaca Mexico. ZooKeys 1029: 185-208 - get paper here
  • Soto-Huerta, Karlo A. and Adam G. Clause 2017. Distribution and Range Extension of the Elegant Coralsnake, Micrurus elegans. The Southwestern Naturalist 62 (4): 303-308. - get paper here
  • Torre-Loranca, M.A. de la; Aguirre-León, G. & López-Luna, M.A. 2006. Coralillos verdaderos (Serpentes: Elapidae) y Coralillos falsos (Serpentes: Colubridae) de Veracruz, México. Acta Zoologica Mexicana 22 (3): 11-22 - get paper here
  • Torres-Hernández, LA, Ramírez-Bautista A, Cruz-Elizalde R, Hernández-Salinas U, Berriozabal-Islas C, DeSantis DL, Johnson JD, Rocha A, García-Padilla E, Mata-Silva V, Fucsko LA, and Wilson LD. 2021. The herpetofauna of Veracruz, Mexico: composition, distribution, and conservation status. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 15(2) [General Section]: 72–155 - get paper here
  • Vásquez-Cruz, Víctor; Luis Canseco-Márquez 2020. AMPHIBIAN AND REPTILES OF THE COLONIA AGRÍCOLA RINCÓN DE LAS FLORES, TEZONAPA, VERACRUZ, MEXICO. Rev. Latinoamer. Herp. 3 (1): 66-80 - 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.
  • Woolrich-Piña, G. A., E. García-Padilla, D. L. DeSantis, J. D. Johnson, V. Mata-Silva, and L. D. Wilson 2017. The herpetofauna of Puebla, Mexico: composition, distribution, and conservation status. Mesoamerican Herpetology 4(4): 791–884 - get paper here
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