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Rhinocheilus lecontei BAIRD & GIRARD, 1853

IUCN Red List - Rhinocheilus lecontei - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Lampropeltini, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Longnose Snake
lecontei: Western Longnose Snake
tessellatus: Texas Longnose Snake
G: Nasennatter
S: Culebra Nariz-larga Occidental 
SynonymRhinocheilus lecontei BAIRD & GIRARD 1853: 120
Rhinochilus [sic] lecontei — COPE 1867: 85
Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus GARMAN 1883: 74
Rhinocheilus tessellatus — GARMAN 1887: 128
Rhinochilus [sic] lecontei —VAN DENBURGH 1895: 142
Rhinocheilus lecontei clarus KLAUBER 1941 (fide SHANNON & HUMPHREY)
Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus — SMITH & TAYLOR 1945: 121
Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus — TAYLOR 1953
Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus — JAMESON & FLURY 1949
Rhinocheilus lecontei clarus — ZWEIFEL & NORRIS 1955
Rhinocheilus lecontei — STEBBINS 1985: 195
Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus — TANNER 1985: 640
Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus — MEHRTENS 1987: 202
Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 213
Rhinocheilus lecontei — LINER 1994
Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus — DIXON 2000
Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus — TENNANT & BARTLETT 2000: 455
Rhinocheilus lecontei — ERNST & ERNST 2003: 301
Rhinocheilus lecontei lecontei — LINER 2007
Rhinocheilus lecontei — CROTHER et al. 2012
Rhinocheilus lecontei — WALLACH et al. 2014: 649
Rhinocheilus lecontei — HEIMES 2016: 142 
DistributionUSA (California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, SE Colorado, SW Kansas, Texas),
Mexico (Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Aguascalientes, Durango, Sinaloa etc.)

lecontei: USA (California, Nevada, Arizona), Mexico (Baja California Norte, N Sonora); Type locality: San Diego, California

tessellatus: USA (New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, SW Kansas); Mexico (Coahuila to San Luis Potosí and west to NE Chihuahua); Type locality: Monclova, Coahuila.  
TypesHolotype: MCZ R-137; original publication refers to USNM 206, but USNM 206 is Phrynosoma hernandesi.
Holotype: MCZ 4577, young female, collected by Edward Palmer, 1880 [tesselatus] 
DiagnosisDEFINITION. Rhinocheilus is a colubrid snake genus (Underwood, 1967) with 23-23-19 dorsal scale rows, 8 supralabials, 9 infralabials, 2 + 3 temporal, I loreal, 190-218 caudals in males and 181-213 in females. Subcaudals are mostly entire and number 48-61 in males and 41-54 in females. The sexual dimorphism that exists, with males having more ventrals than females, is a condition opposite that exhibited in most colubrids. Anal plate is entire. Maxillary teeth number 13-19. The rostral is prominent and sharp and protrudes beyond the lower jaw. The hemipenis is single, rounded and only slightly forked. The proximal half of the shaft bears many tiny spines. Above the smooth shaft there is a spinous distal half with fairly large recurved spines. The largest spines are near the proximal edge of the spinous section; distally the spines gradually change into calyces and the bilobed section is mainly calyculate. The calyces are fringed with small spines. The calyces terminate abruptly, forming a border of an irregular smooth area at the end, which is wider on the secondary lobe than on the larger lobe on which the sulcus terminates. Body blotches vary from 14 to 48, the black saddles extend laterally to the edge of the ventrals. The blotches vary from V-shaped to almost equidistant bands around the dorsal and lateral surfaces. Centers of the blotches contain lighter cream centered scales and sometimes contain red pigmentation. Size of the blotches range from one and one-half to four times the interspaces at midbody. Interspaces contain cream or white colored scales with red to pink centers and sometimes black; occasional specimens contain no red pigmentation. The venter ranges from immaculate cream or white scales to being heavily pigmented with black. (Medica 1975)

DEFINITION (tessellatus). A subspecies with 18-35 black body blotches on a cream or yellowish background. The saddles taper to a -shape laterally and contain cream-centered scales. Laterally the interspaces contain numerous black centered scales which also give the appearance of secondary blotches. At midbody the dark saddles are two-thirds the length of the interspaces. The dorsal interspaces are red-colored as are, to a lesser degree, the lateral surfaces. The venter is cream or yellowish and genrally immaculate save for the extension of the edges of the saddles and secondary blotches on to the ventrals. (Medica 1975) 
CommentSubspecies: GRISMER (1999) elevated Rhinocheilus lecontei etheridgei to full species status based on squamation, but using an evolutionary species concept.MANIER (2004) found that no one subspecies was consistently divergent in all analyses, leading to the conclusion that the three mainland subspecies are not sufficiently distinct to warrant separate subspecies status. The island subspecies, though not always statistically distinct, is geographically separate from other populations and differs in characters related to size. Given the small number of specimens available, a decision regarding its taxonomic status (i.e. elevation to species level) is best deferred until additional specimens can be examined and data on molecular variation can be analysed.

Variation: R. lecontei is highly variable, which has led to the description of various subspecies (sometimes elevated to full species).

Mimicry: R. lecontei likely mimics coral snakes (Heimes 2016), e.g. Micruroides euryxanthus) and Micrurus tener (Place & Shrestha 2017).

Type species: Rhinocheilus lecontei BAIRD & GIRARD 1853 is the type species of the genus Rhinocheilus BAIRD & GIRARD 1853.

Phylogenetics: see Dahn et al. 2018 for a phylogeny of Lampropeltini. 
EtymologyThe generic name was derived from the Greek words rhinos, meaning "snout" and chilos, meaning "lip," in reference to the condition ofthe snout, which extends beyond the lower lip. The species is named after Dr. John Lawrence Le Conte (1825-1883), an American entomologist, biologist, and physician during the American Civil War, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
The name tesselatus is a Latin word for "made of small square stones," alluding to the blotched pattern. 
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