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Micrurus spurrelli (BOULENGER, 1914)

IUCN Red List - Micrurus spurrelli - Near Threatened, NT

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Butterfly-head coral snake 
SynonymElaps spurrelli BOULENGER 1914
Micrurus nicefori SCHMIDT 1955
Micrurus spurelli [sic] — PÉREZ-SANTOS & MORENO 1988
Micrurus spurelli — WELCH 1994: 89
Micrurus spurrelli — WALLACH et al. 2014: 454 
DistributionW Colombia (Choco)

Type locality: at or near Peña Lisa, Condoto.  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.1.17.19, a 230 mm female (H.G.F. Spurrell). 
DiagnosisDefinition: A light (red?) and black coral snake, with two irregular light (red?) head crossbands-one on the prefrontal region and the other on the posterior part of the parietals-and sinuously-irregular black frontalsupraocular band somewhat resembling the shape of the butterfly. The body is covered by alternating light (red?) and black bands. The light bands have moderate to heavy black tips and they are shorter than the black bands. The color of the light bands in live specimens is unknown but it could be red. Red bands seem to be on the tail (Roze 1996: 218).

Description: Males have 234 to 241 (236.7) and females have 252 to 267 (259.5) ventrals; subcaudals 35 to 37 (36.3) in males and 26 to 30 (28.0) in females, usually 1+1 temporals. Examined: 3 males and 2 females, including the holotypes.
The snout is black, followed by a light supranasal-prefrontal band and by an irregular sinuous butterfly-like black band that covers the region between eyes and the anterior part of the parietals and extends onto supralabials. It is followed by a light parietal band that includes the tips of the parietals. Below, the head is light with irregular black spots on the mental and several infralabials, as well as small black dots on the chin. The black nuchal band starts 1 to 2 dorsals behind the tips of the parietals and is 5 to 7 dorsals long, reduced or interrupted on the ventral side. The black bands are 3 to 4 dorsals and 2 to 4 ventrals long. The light (red?) bands are 2 dorsals and 2 to 3 ventrals long. Irregular black tips are present on many, but not all, light dorsals. In targer specimens the light bands can be almost completely obliterated by black so that they are almost indistinguishable. On the tail, the black bands are up to 2 times longer than the (most probably) red bands.
The males have 47 to 53 (52.2) and the females have 52 to 53 (52.5) black body bands. The males have 6 to 7 (6.2) and the females have 4 to 6 (5.0) black tail bands (Roze 1996: 218). 
CommentSynonymy after that of PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970.

EtymologySpurrelli is named after H. G. F. Spurrell, fellow of the Zoological Society of London, an avid collector of amphibians and reptiles in South America, including this holotype. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1914. On a second collection of batrachians and reptiles made by Dr. H. G. F. Spurrell, F.Z.S. in the Chocó, Colombia. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1914: 813-817 - get paper here
  • Campbell, J.A. & Lamar, W.W. 1989. The Venomous Reptiles of Latin America. Comstock Publishing/Cornell University Press, Ithaca
  • GUEDES, THAÍS B.; CRISTIANO NOGUEIRA & OTAVIO A. V. MARQUES 2014. Diversity, natural history, and geographic distribution of snakes in the Caatinga, Northeastern Brazil. Zootaxa 3863 (1): 001–093 - get paper here
  • Pérez-Santos,C. & Moreno, A.G. 1988. Ofidios de Colombia. Museo reegionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino, Monographie VI, 517 pp.
  • Schmidt, Karl P. 1955. Coral snakes of the genus Micrurus in Colombia. Fieldiana Zoology 34 (34): 337-359 - 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
  • 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.
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