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Pliocercus elapoides COPE, 1860

IUCN Red List - Pliocercus elapoides - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
SubspeciesPliocercus elapoides aequalis SALVIN 1861
Pliocercus elapoides diastema (BOCOURT 1886)
Pliocercus elapoides elapoides COPE 1860
Pliocercus elapoides occidentalis SMITH & LANDY 1965 
Common NamesVariegated False Coral Snake. 
SynonymPliocercus elapoides COPE 1860: 253
Elapochrus deppei PETERS 1860: 294
Liophis tricinctus JAN 1863
Liophis elapoides — GARMAN 1884: 69
Pliocercus salvinii MÜLLER 1878
Liophis elapoides var. diastemus BOCOURT 1886 (1888?)
Urotheca elapoides — BOULENGER 1894: 182
Pliocercus bicolor SMITH 1941
Pliocercus andrewsi SMITH 1942
Pliocercus elapoides celatus SMITH 1943
Pliocercus elapoides hobartsmithi LINER 1960
Pliocercus elapsoides — MALNATE 1971: 366
Urotheca elapoides - SAVAGE & CROTHER 1989
Pliocercus elapoides — MYERS & CADLE 1994
Urotheca elapoides — LINER 1994
Pliocercus psychoides SMITH & CHISZAR 1996 (fide WALLACH, pers. comm.)
Pliocercus wilmarai SMITH, PEREZ-HIGAREDA & CHISZAR 1996
Urotheca elapoides — LEE 2000: 351
Pliocercus elapoides — SMITH & CHISZAR 2001
Pliocercus andrewsi — SMITH & CHISZAR 2001
Pliocercus bicolor — SMITH & CHISZAR 2001
Pliocercus elapoides wilmarai — SMITH & CHISZAR 2001
Pliocercus bicolor hobartsmithi — SMITH & CHISZAR 2001
Pliocercus elapoides —WILSON & MCCRANIE 2002
Pliocercus wilmarai — FLORES-VILLELA & CANSECO-MÁRQUEZ 2004
Pliocercus elapoides wilmarai — LINER & CASAS-ANDREU 2008: 134
Pliocercus bicolor bicolor — LINER & CASAS-ANDREU 2008: 133
Pliocercus bicolor hobartsmithi — LINER & CASAS-ANDREU 2008: 133
Pliocercus bicolor andrewsi — LINER & CASAS-ANDREU 2008: 133
Pliocercus elapoides — WALLACH et al. 2014: 570

Pliocercus elapoides aequalis SALVIN 1861
Pleiocercus aequalis SALVIN 1861: 227
Pliocercus aequalis — COPE 1862: 72
Elapochrus aequalis varietas — MÜLLER 1878: 662
Pliocercus salvinii — MÜLLER 1878:709 (nom. subst. pro E. aequalis varietas)
Liophis tricinctus — MÜLLER 1878:750 (non JAN)
Liophis elapoides aequalis — BOCOURT 1886: 637
Pliocercus sargii FISCHER 1881: 225
Elapochrus aequalis — GÜNTHER 1893: 106
Urotheca elapoides aequalis — WERNER 1896: 348
Urotheca aequalis — GADOW 1911: 17
Urotheca elapoides elapoides — SMITH 1939: 469 (part.)
Pliocercus elapoides laticollaris SMITH 1941: 122
Pliocercus elapoides semicinctus SCHMIDT 1941: 502
Pliocercus elapoides schmidti SMITH 1942: 161
Pliocercus elapoides laticollaris — SMITH & TAYLOR 1945
Pliocercus euryzonus aequalis — STUART 1948: 72
Pliocercus elapoides alvinii — STUART 1948: 67
Pliocercus laticollaris — TAYLOR 1949: 204
Pliocercus laticollaris — LINER 1960: 217
Pliocercus euryzonus aequalis — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 251
Pliocercus aequalis - PÉREZ-HIGAREDA & SMITH 1986
Pliocercus elapoides aequalis — SMITH & CHISZAR 2001
Pliocercus elapoides aequalis — LINER & CASAS-ANDREU 2008

Pliocercus elapoides diastemus (BOCOURT 1886)
Liophis elapoides diastema BOCOURT 1886: 636
Pliocercus elapoides diastemus — SMITH 1941: 120
Pliocercus elapoides diastemus — SMITH & TAYLOR 1945: 111
Pliocercus elapoides salvadorensis MERTENS 1952: 91
Pliocercus andrewsi pacificus SMITH & CHRAPLIWY 1957: 233
Pliocercus elapoides diastema — SMITH & CHISZAR 2001
Pliocercus elapoides diastema — LINER & CASAS-ANDREU 2008

Pliocercus elapoides occidentalis SMITH & LANDY 1965
Pliocercus elapoides occidentalis SMITH & LANDY 1965: 1
Pliocercus elapoides occidentalis — SMITH & CHISZAR 2001
Pliocercus elapoides occidentalis — LINER & CASAS-ANDREU 2008 
DistributionSE Mexico (Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo ec.), Belize, Guatemala, Honduras (elevation 0-1670 m), El Salvador

Type locality: “Jalapa” (= Xalapa), Veracruz, México.

aequalis: Guatemala; Type locality, "San Gerónimo and the neighboring mountains ...of Vera Paz," in Baja Vera Paz, Guatemala.

andrewsi: Mexico (Yucatan); Type locality: Libre Unitin,Yucatán."

pacificus: Type locality: Mexico (Chiapas): Pacific slopes of Finca Custepec, District of Tonala, 40 mi ESE Tonala, Chiapas;

bicolor: Mexico (Tamaulipas, Veracruz). Type locality: "Tuxpan, [Veracruz, Mexico]," in error, probably in the foothills west of there (fide SMITH & CHISZAR 2001, CAAR 737).

diastema: Guatemala; Type locality, "Plateau of Guatemala."

occidentalis: Type locality: Mexico: La Concepcion, near Putla, Oaxaca;

wilmarai: Mexico (Veracruz); Type locality: 5.6 road mi ESE Tebanca (=Tabanca) (sic), Los Tuxtlas region, southern Veracruz. Map legend:
TDWG region - Region according to the TDWG standard, not a precise distribution map.

NOTE: TDWG regions are generated automatically from the text in the distribution field and not in every cases it works well. We are working on it.
 
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesSyntypes: ANSP 3810-3
Holotype: FMNH 36323 (Libre Union, Yucatan, Mexico) [Pliocercus andrewsi]
holotype AMNH 4433, the only known specimen of this species [Pliocercus psychoides]
Holotype: UIMNH 40832, T. MacDougall; November 18, 1956. [Pliocercus andrewsi pacificus]
Holotype: UIMNH 61410, T. MacDougall; May 24, 1965 [occidentalis]
Holotype: MVZ [celatus]
Syntypes: MNHN 132-133, adult males [diastema]
Holotype: UTA R-3159 [wilmarai] 
CommentThis genus / species complex is in urgent need of revision. While Smith & Chiszar 2001 (CAAR) have summarized the state of knowledge at the time, there seems to be no molecular analysis of the relationships among the numerous subspecies and synonyms.

A bicolour (red and black) OR tricolour (red, yellow and black) banded or ringed form that mimics the pattern of sympatric species of venomous coral snakes (Micrurus sp.)

Subspecies: Smith & Chiszar 2001 (CAAR 739) listed 5 subspecies: elapoides, aequalis, diastema, occidentalis, and wilmarai (the latter of which is now often considered a valid species).

Mimicry: Pliocercus elapoides (and Pliocercus wilmarai, if recognized) mimicks Micrurus bernadi, M. tener, M. diastema, and M. limbatus (TORRE-LORANCA et al. 2006).

Type species: Pliocercus elapoides COPE 1860: 253 is the type species of the genus Pliocercus COPE 1860.

Synonymy: Pliocercus and Urotheca have been synonymized by Savage & Crother 1989. However, other disagree and have kept the two genera separate (e.g. Smith et al. 1995: 204). P. wilmarai is a synonym of Pliocercus elapoides fide WALLACH et al. 2014: 570 and Heimes 2016: 284.

DIAGNOSIS (andrewsi). Pliocercus andrewsi differs from all other species of the genus, except P. bicolor, in the combination of 5- 7 black rings on the body that are 50-125% of the length of the pale interspaces. Pliocercus bicolor rarely (1 in 55) has as few as 7 black rings on the body equally as long as those of P andrewsi, and differs also in having the posterior infralabial fused with the second labiogenial. In addition, P. andrewsi differs from the P. euryzonus complex (P. dimidiatus, P. euryzonus) in having tricolor rings. All other congeners have either more numerous black rings on the body or, if equally few, black rings that are much shorter than half the length of the pale interspaces [SMITH & CHISZAR 2001].

DIAGNOSIS (bicolor). Pliocercus bicolor is unique in the genus in having the posterior infralabial fused with the posterior labiogenial. All specimens examined (N = 64) have those two scales fused on one (N = 2) or both (N = 62) sides. Only two of 452 other congeners had these scales fused on only one side. In addition, no other species with red, black, and yellow rings has 8 or more black rings on body equally as long as in P. b. bicolor (some P. andrewsi, equally long ringed, have as many as 7, but that species also differs in having separate posterior infralabials and labiogenials) [SMITH & CHISZAR 2001, CAAR 737]. 
EtymologyThe generic name Pliocercus is derived from the Greek words pleio, meaning "more" and kerkos, meaning "tail," in reference to the long and thick tail in members of this genus. The derivation of the specific name is from the Latin words elaps, meaning "snake or coralsnake" and oides, a suffix meaning "likeness," in reference to its similarity in color pattem to that of a coralsnake.
The specific name “andrewsi” honors the collector of the type specimens, E. Wyllys Andrews, who contributed extensively to the knowledge of the herpetofauna of the Yucatan Peninsula and to the collections of the Field Museum of Natural History. 
References
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