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Micrurus spixii WAGLER, 1824

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
SubspeciesMicrurus spixii spixii (WAGLER 1824)
Micrurus spixii martiusi (SCHMIDT 1953) 
Common NamesAmazon Coral Snake 
SynonymMicrurus spixii WAGLER 1824: 48
Elaps Marcgravii — FITZINGER 1826:901
Elaps corallinus — SCHLEGEL 1837 (in part)
Elaps ehrhardti MÜLLER 1926:198.
Micrurus spixii — KORNACKER 1999: 159
Micrurus spixii — GOWER et al. 2012: 94
Micrurus spixii — WALLACH et al. 2014: 454

Micrurus spixii spixii (WAGLER 1824)
Elaps spixii BOULENGER 1896
Elaps ehrhardti MÜLLER 1926: 198
Micrurus spixii spixii — SCHMIDT & WALKER 1943: 294
Micrurus spixii spixii — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 217
Micrurus spixii spixii — WELCH 1994: 89
Micrurus spixii spixii — CAMPBELL & LAMAR 2004: 228

Micrurus spixiii martiusi SCHMIDT 1953
Micrurus spixiii martiusi SCHMIDT 1953: 175
Micrurus spixii martiusi — CAMPBELL & LAMAR 2004: 228
Micrurus spixiii martiusi — FROTA et al. 2005
Micrurus spixiii martiusi — FEITOSA et al. 2007 
DistributionBrazil (Amazonas, Para, Tocantins, Mato Grosso),
S Venezuela, S Colombia, NW Bolivia

spixii: Brazil (Amazonas), S Venezuela

martiusi: Brazil (lower Amazon of Para, NE Mato Grosso); Type locality: Santarem, Pard, Brazil.

Type locality: “Habitat rarus ad flumen Solimöens” [Brazil, Rio Solimões] according to the original description and Vanzolini (1981)  
TypesHolotype: ZSM 209/0, male, collected by Spix and Martius expedition to Brazil, 1817-1820.
HOLOTYPE: MCZ 2612, male [martiusi]
Holotype: ZSM203/1925(incorrectlygivenasZSM 140/1925 in the original description), male, “Man- acapurú am Solimoëns, Brasilien”, collected by W. Ehrhardt, 08.06.1925 [ehrhardti] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis.—(1) Dorsal pattern of yellow, red, and black triads; (2) hemipenis and tail relatively short; (3) two supralabials entering orbit; (4) mental usually separated from chinshields by medial contact of first pair of infralabials; (5) anal scale usually divided; (6) first triad incomplete: one black ring on neck, its anterior margin nearly vertical; (7) dorsal scales of head (including parietals) black with light edges; (8) scales in yellow rings with heavier black apices than scales in red rings; (9) black rings about as long dorsally as ventrally, complete except for black ring straddling the vent; (10) mental usually immaculate, some black edging of more posterior scales on underside of head; (11) 5.33-7.67 (4-9 in specimens from outside Bolivia, Roze, 1996) triads on body and 0.67-1.33 triad on tail [HARVEY et al. 2003].

CommentType species: Micrurus spixii WAGLER 1824 is the type species of the genus Micrurus WAGLER in SPIX 1824. See also ICZN opinion 1201.

Synonymy mainly after PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970 and HARVEY et al. 2003 (who listed martiusi as synonym of spixii). Kaiser et al. 2013 rejected the (sub-) generic names Binghamus Hoser 2012, Hoserelapidea Hoser 2012, Hoserelapidea Hoser 2012, Troianous Hoser 2012 invalid and rejected their use instead of Micrurus.

Distribution: not in Peru (fide T. DOAN, pers. comm., 4 June 2012). Not in Venezuela (Luis Esqueda, pers. comm., 21 April 2016, Natera-Mumaw et al. 2015 say it is M. obscurus which is in Venezuela but not spixii);


Subspecies: Micrurus spixii obscurus (JAN 1872) has been elevated to full species status. Micrurus spixii princeps (BOULENGER 1905) is now considered as a synonym of M. obscurus.

Mimicry: this species is mimiced by Simophis rhinostoma. 
EtymologyThe generic name is derived from the Greek words micro, meaning "little or short" and oura, meaning "tail," in reference to the relatively short tail in members of this genus.
Named after Johann Baptist von Spix (1781-1826), German zoologist. See Heinzeller (2006) and the Spixiana Supplement 1983 for detailed biographical data. 
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  • Burger, W.L. 1955. A new subspecies of the coral snake Micrurus lemniscatus from Vénézuela, British Guiana and Trinidad, and a key for the identification of associated species of coral snakes. Bol. Mus. Cienc. Nat. Caracas 1: 35-40
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  • Frota, J.G. da; Pedroso dos Santos-Jr, Alfredo; Menezes-Chalkidis, H. de & Guimarães Guedes, A. 2005. AS SERPENTES DA REGIÃO DO BAIXO RIO AMAZONAS, OESTE DO ESTADO DO PARÁ, BRASIL (SQUAMATA). Biociências 13 (2): 211-220
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  • Heinzeller, T. 2006. Zum 225. Geburtstag des Begründers der ZSM: Spix und der Aufbruch der Zoologie in die Moderne. Spixiana 29 (3): 193-197 - get paper here
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