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Micrurus frontalis (DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL, 1854)

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Common NamesSouthern Coral Snake 
SynonymMicrurus frontalis frontalis (DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854)
Elaps frontalis DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 1223
Micrurus frontalis multicinctus AMARAL 1944
Micrurus frontalis frontalis — WELCH 1994: 83
Micrurus frontalis multicinctus — WELCH 1994: 83
Micrurus frontalis frontalis — ROZE 1994
Micrurus frontalis multicinctus — ROZE 1994
Micrurus frontalis multicinctus — ROZE 1996: 175
Micrurus frontalis frontalis — ROZE 1996: 172
Micrurus frontalis — DA SILVA & SITES 1999: 149
Micrurus frontalis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 446 
DistributionBrazil (Rio Grande do Sul), Paraguay,
NE Argentina (Corrientes, Entre Rios, Misiones, Santiago del Estero)

multicinctus: Brazil (S Sao Paulo to N Rio Grande do Sul); Type locality: Texeira Soares, Parana Brazil.

Type locality: Corrientes and Misiones Territory, Argentina.  
TypesSyntypes: MNHN-RA 0854 and MNHN-RA 0578 (2 of 3 left)
Holotype: IB 8877, a female [multicinctus] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Micrurus frontalis is a triadal coralsnake with black snout with white bordered scales, including the rostral, internasal, prefrontals, nasals, preoculars and anterior 3-4 supralabials (Figs. 3-6). Laterally, the black color usually reaches the postoculars. The top of the head is black including the frontal, supraoculars and parietals, never reaching the temporals. Inferiorly, the mental, first 3 infralabials and sometimes the anterior genials are white. These scales may present irregular black markings. The remaining gular region is red (mostly immaculate). The first triad is usually separated from the parietals by 2 to 7 scales. The triad pattern can either be of equally symmetrical black and white rings or have a slightly longer middle black ring (Table 2). Whenever the middle black ring is longer than the external ones the white rings are longer than the external black rings this unambiguously distinguishes the M. frontalis pattern from the patterns of other taxa. Also, the middle black ring in some other taxa (M. baliocoryphus, M. pyrrhocryptus, and M. tricolor) is much longer compared to M. frontalis. The white and the red rings are usually tipped with black but this is not a fixed character for this taxon. Triads range from 10 to 15 (Table 1, from Silva & Sites 1999). 
CommentSubspecies: Several forms formerly considered to be subspecies of M. frontalis are now regarded as separate species: Micrurus altirostris, M. baliocoryphus, M. pyrrhocryptus and M. diana (DA SILVA & SITES 1999). Synonymy partly following that of CEI 1993. Subspecies and distribution partly after WELCH 1994.


Not in Uruguay fide CARREIRA et al. (2005). However, Micrurus altirostris, previously considered as a subspecies of M. frontalis occurs in Uruguay. 
  • Abalos, J.W., Baez, E.C., & Nader, R. 1964. Serpientes de Santiago del Estero. Acta Zoologica Lilloana 20: 211-283.
  • Amaral, A. do. 1944. Notas sôbre a ofiologia neotrópica e brasilica. XI. Subespécies de Micrurus lemniscatus (L.) e suas afindades com M. frontalis (Dm. & Bibr.). Pap. Avul. Zool., Sao Paulo 5, 83–94 - get paper here
  • Cacciali, Pier; Norman J. Scott, Aida Luz Aquino Ortíz, Lee A. Fitzgerald, and Paul Smith 2016. The Reptiles of Paraguay: Literature, Distribution, and an Annotated Taxonomic Checklist SPECIAL PUBLICATION OF THE MUSEUM OF SOUTHWESTERN BIOLOGY, NUMBER 11: 1–373 - get paper here
  • Campbell, J.A. & Lamar, W.W. 1989. The Venomous Reptiles of Latin America. Comstock Publishing/Cornell University Press, Ithaca
  • Cei, J. M. 1993. Reptiles del noroeste, nordeste y este de la Argentina. Museo Regionale Sci. Naturale Torino, Monografie 14: 1-949
  • Cope, E.D. 1860. Catalogue of the venomous serpents in the Museum of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, with notes on the families, genera and species. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 1859: 332-347 - get paper here
  • Da SILVA, N. J. JR. & J. W. JR. SITES 1999. Revision of the Micrurus frontalis complex (Serpentes: Elapidae). Herpetological Monographs 13: 142-194 - get paper here
  • DI-BERNARDO, MARCOS; MARCIO BORGES-MARTINS & NELSON JORGE DA SILVA, JR. 2007. A new species of coralsnake (Micrurus: Elapidae) from southern Brazil. Zootaxa 1447: 1–26 - get paper here
  • Duméril, A. M. C., Bibron, G. & DUMÉRIL, A. H. A., 1854. Erpétologie générale ou histoire naturelle complète des reptiles. Tome septième. Deuxième partie, comprenant l'histoire des serpents venimeux. Paris, Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret: i-xii + 781-1536 - get paper here
  • Franca, F.G.R.; Daniel O. Mesquita, Cristiano C. Nogueira, and Alexandre F. B. Araújo 2008. Phylogeny and Ecology Determine Morphological Structure in a Snake Assemblage in the Central Brazilian Cerrado. Copeia 2008 (1): 23-38 - get paper here
  • Freiberg, M.A. 1982. Snakes of South America. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, NJ, 189 pp.
  • Guedes, Thaís B.; Ricardo J. Sawaya, Alexander Zizka, Shawn Laffan, Søren Faurby, R. Alexander Pyron, Renato S. Bérnils, Martin Jansen, Paulo Passos, Ana L. C. Prudente, Diego F. Cisneros-Heredia, Henrique B. Braz, Cristiano de C. Nogueira, Alexandre 2017. Patterns, biases and prospects in the distribution and diversity of Neotropical snakes. Global Ecol Biogeogr 00:1–8 - get paper here
  • Marques, Otavio A. V.; Lígia Pizzatto, and Selma M. Almeida Santos 2013. Reproductive Strategies of New World Coral Snakes, Genus Micrurus. Herpetologica 69 (1): 58-66. - get paper here
  • Marques, Otavio A. V.; Rafaela Z. Coeti, Patrícia A. Braga, Ivan Sazima 2017. A rotten choice: feeding attempt by a coral snake (Micrurus frontalis) on a dead pitviper (Bothrops jararaca) that had swallowed a bulky rodent. Herpetology Notes 10: 137-139 - get paper here
  • Roze, J.A. 1994. Notes on the taxonomy of venomous coral snakes (Elapidae) of South America. Bull. Maryland Herp. Soc. 30: 177-185. - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Karl P. 1936. Preliminary account of coral snakes of South America. Zoological Series of Field Museum of Natural History 20 (19): 189-203 - get paper here
  • Scott, Norman J.;Lovett, Jonny Wayne 1975. A collection of reptiles and amphibians from the Chaco of Paraguay. The University of Connecticut Occasional Papers, Biological Series 2 (16): 257-266
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  • Shreve, Benjamin 1953. Notes on the races of Micrurus frontalis (Duméril, Duméril and Bibron). Breviora (16): 1-6 - get paper here
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