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Micrurus hemprichii (JAN, 1858)

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesMicrurus hemprichii hemprichii (JAN 1858)
Micrurus hemprichii ortoni SCHMIDT 1953 
Common NamesE: Worm-eating coral snake, Hemprich's Coral Snake
E: Eastern worm-eating coral snake [hemprichii]
E: Western worm-eating coral snake [ortoni]
Portuguese: Cobra-Coral, Cobra-Coral-Escura, Coral-Verdadeira 
SynonymElaps hemprichii JAN 1858: 523
Micrurus hemprichii — AMARAL 1929: 230
Micrurus hemprichii — KORNACKER 1999: 153
Micrurus hemprichii — WHITHWORTH & BEIRNE 2011
Micrurus hemprichii — WALLACH et al. 2014: 447

Micrurus hemprichii hemprichii (JAN 1858)
Elaps hemprichii JAN 1858: 523
Micrurus hemprichii hemprichii — SCHMIDT 1953: 166
Micrurus hemprichii hemprichii — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 210
Micrurus hemprichi hemprichi — GASC & RODRIGUES 1980
Micrurus hemprichii hemprichii — GORZULA & SEÑARIS 1999
Micrurus hemprichii — VALENCIA et al. 2016
Micrurus hemprichii — BERNARDE et al. 2018

Micrurus hemprichii ortoni SCHMIDT 1953
Micrurus hemprichii ortoni SCHMIDT 1953: 166
Micrurus hemprichii ortoni — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 210
Micrurus rondonianus ROZE & DA SILVA 1990
Micrurus hemprichi rondonianus — ROZE 1994
Micrurus hemprichii ortoni — FEITOSA et al. 2007
Micrurus hemprichii ortonii — WHITHWORTH & BEIRNE 2011
Micrurus ortonii — VALENCIA et al. 2016
Micrurus hemprichii ortonii — SILVA et al. 2017
Micrurus ortoni — BERNARDE et al. 2018 
DistributionColombia, Venezuela (TF Amazonas), Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil (Para, Rondonia), Bolivia

hemprichii: E Colombia, S Venezuela, the Guianas, NE Brazil; Type locality: Colombia.

ortoni: Upper Amazon of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, W Brazil (Amazonas); Type locality: Pebs (Pebas fide SCHMIDT 1955), Peru.  
TypesSyntypes: MSNM, sex unknown, destroyed in World War II) and an unknown locality (NHMW = NMW, status unknown). Schmidt (1953a) doubts that one of the types could have come from Colombia and proposes "vicinity of Bartica, British Guiana" as the new type locality. However, Roze (1955) argues that the original type locality may have been correct, and he reports a specimen from only a few kilometers of the Colombian border in Venezuela. Boulenger, 1896:421; Boulenger, 1898a: 131 (cited from HARVEY et al. 2003).
Holotype: MCZ 12423, male, "Pebas, Peru" [ortonii]
Holotype: UCG 3299, male, parapes: UCG, MCZ, USNM, IMTM, MPEG [rondonianus]
Holotype: MCZ 12423 [ortoni] 
DiagnosisDefinition: A triad-type coral snake in which the first triad is complete and the bands that separate them are not red but usually brownish or orangish-yellow. The black bands of the triads are very long, several times longer than the orangish-red and white bands. This speeies gives the impression of a black coral snake with small brownish and white crossbands. It is the only speeies of Micrurus in which the anal plate is undivided (Roze 1996: 180, including the following subspecies).

Description (hemprichii): Males have 156 to 181 (173.6) and females have 160. to 182 (178.0.) ventrals; subcaudals 26 to 29 (27.7) in males and 22 to 28 (24.3) in females; 90.% of specimens have 1 to 10 undivided subcaudals. Examined: 16 males and 6 females.
The black cap includes a11 the parietals or is reduced, covering only the anterior part of the parietals and forming an irregular, posterior border. The chin is ye110wish with small black spots on the mental. The black central band of the triads is about the same length as the outer bands, covering 4 to 8 dorsals and 3 to 5 ventrals. The red (or dark yellow) bands are 2 to 4 dorsals and ventrals long. The white bands are 1 to 1.5 dorsals and 2 ventrals long. The red bands on the tail are twice as long as those on the body.
The males have 7 to 10. (8.5) and the females have 7 to 9 (one specimen has 6) (8.4) triads on the body. Both sexes have 1 to 1.33 triads on the tail.

Description (ortonii): Males have 177 to 193 (183.9) and females have 178 to 185 (181.3) ventrals; subcaudals 29 to 31 (29.9) in males and 21 to 26 (25.1) in females; occasional specimens' have a few undivided subcaudals. Examined: 10. males and 7 females, including the holotype.
The black cap of the head is not reduced in 60.% of the specimens. The remainder have some reduction of the black head coloration, varying from speckled brown or black on the posterior part of the parietals to red on more than half of the parietals. The chin is red with small black spots on several scales. The black bands vary in length from 6·to 13 dorsals. The first triad is the longest and the last triad is the shortest. The white bands are usually 1 dorsal and 2 to 3 ventrals long. The red bands are 2 to 3 dorsals and 3 to 12 ventrals long. The white and red scales are outlined with black; some specimens have small black tips on the scales. The only red band on the tail is longer than those on the body, extending over 8 to 12 dorsals, and it is usually longer than the last black band on the body.
The males have 5 to 6 (5.5) and the fernales have 5 to 6 (5.6) triads on the body. About 70% of the specimens of both sexes have 2/3 of a triad on the tail. The rest have 1 full triad on the tail.

Description (rondonianus): Males have 173 to 183 (176.2) ventrals and fernales have 174 to 183 (180.2); subcaudals 26 to 32 (27.9) in males and 22 to 28 (25.1) in fernales; anal plate undivided. Exarnined: 23 males and 13 fernales, including the holotype.
The snout is black including the frontal and ante-
rior part of the parietals, followed by a brownish sepia band that covers the first dorsals. The borders of the parietals, the temporals, and the first dorsals are black.
Below, the head is all white including the first three scales behind the tips of the genials. The body is covered by large black bands, 27 to 32 dorsals long, separated by sepia bands about 2 to 3 dorsals and 5 to 6 ventrals long. Ventrally, between the sepia bands are 2 white spots, 3 to 4 ventrals long, that are reduced in size ventrolaterally, but extend onto the first dorsals. The ventral coloration is suggestive of black triads, distinguishable only ventrally and separated by the brownish sepia bands. In some specimens, the white ventral bands continue over the dorsum as white dots occupying less than 1 dorsal scale forrning interrupted pearly rings visible on the first or second black body band.
Counting the complete triads, distinguishable ventrally, the males have 5 to 7 black triads (or 5 to 7 long black bands on the dorsurn, separated by yellowish sepia bands) and fernales also have 5 to 7 black triads, distributed in the following way: (for Number of triads in Micurus hemprichii rondonianus see table in Roze 1996: 182). On the tail is at least one brownish sepia-band, but the anal plate in 28 specimens is situated before it, and in 9 specirnens approximately within or slightly behind the brownish band, producing such formulas as 52/3 or 6% triads. 
CommentSynonymy mainly after PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970. Micrurus hemprichii rondonianus ROZE & DA SILVA 1990 was synonymized with Micrurus hemprichii ortoni by Silva 1993 and reduced to subspecies by ROZE 1994. M. h. rondonianus appears to be a melanistic form (ROZE 1994). Silva Jr et al. (2016) recognized only two subspecies (M. h. hemprichii and M. h. ortoni), considering M. h. rondonianus a junior synonym of M. h. ortoni.


Distribution: see maps in Bernarde et al. 2018: 256 (Fig. 6), Nogueira et al. 2019, Paine & Farfan 2020. 
EtymologyNamed after Wilhelm Friedrich Hemprich (1796-1825), German naturalist. 
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