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Sonora michoacanensis (DUGÈS, 1884)

IUCN Red List - Sonora michoacanensis - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Michoacán Ground Snake
S: Culebra de Tierra de Michocán 
SynonymContia michoacanensis DUGÈS in COPE 1884: 178
Elapomorphus michoacanensis – COPE 1895
Homalocranium michoacanense – GÜNTHER 1895
Chionactis michoacanensis – COPE 1896
Scolecophis michoacanensis – BOULENGER 1896
Sonora michoacanensis — DUNN 1928
Sonora michoacanensis — ECHTERNACHT 1973
Sonora erythrura TAYLOR 1937
Sonora michoacanensis — LINER 1994
Sonora michoacanensis — PONCE-CAMPOS et al. 2004
Sonora michoacanensis — LINER 2007
Sonora michoacanensis — COX et al. 2012
Sonora michoacanensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 680
Sonora (Eosonora) michoacanensis — COX et al. 2018: 977 
DistributionMexico (Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan; Morelos, Puebla)

Type locality: Michoacan, Mexico (neotype locality). Restricted to ‘Apatzingan, Michoacán’ by Smith & Taylor (1950).

erythrura: Mexico (Guerrero); Type locality: Mexico: 10 mi S Taxco, Guerrero;  
TypesNeotype: BMNH 1946.1.14.65
Holotype: INHS (= UIMNH) 25063 (5440), E. H. Taylor; July 17, 1936. [Sonora erythrura] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: This species can be distinguished from S. mutabilis based on the almost invariable absence of banding on the tail, and from S. aemula based on the absence of a file-like tail (Fig. 13). We note that one specimen from the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (UMMZ 109904) has a single narrow band on the tail [COX et al. 2012].

Variation: This species is extremely variable in colour pattern, ranging from uniform red to banded tricoloured pat- tern (Echternacht, 1973). In tricoloured animals, the num- ber of bands and shape of bands varies greatly (Echternacht, 1973). In some individuals, the black and yellow bands ap- pear as black-bordered yellow spots (Fig. 7). Morphological measurements and meristic characters are mostly overlap- ping between S. mutabilis and S. michoacanensis (Table 3). The hemipenis is depicted in Cope (Cope, 1895, Plate XXIX, Fig. 6) [COX et al. 2012].

Original description from DUGÈS in COPE 1884: Muzzle moderately prominent, rounded; eye moderate; body cylindric; tail short, acute at end, not slender. Scales without fossae.Rostral plate much wider than high. Internasal small. Frontal large, longer than wide, posterior angle obtuse. Superciliaries moderate, much narrowed anteriorly. Parietals as long as the frontal, rounded posteriorly. The single nasal is narrow and is obliquely placed, being in contact by its posterior border with both the prefrontal and loreal, and not touching the second superior labial. Loreal longer than high. Preocular touching prefrontal and third superior labial. Two postocular, the inferior resting on the fourth and fifth superior labials. Temporals 1-2. Seven superior labials, the third and fourth entering the orbit, the sixth very small. Six inferior labials, of which four are in contact with the geneials; post-geneials one-third the length of the pregeneials. Between the former and the gastrosteges, seven rows of small scales. Scales in fifteen rows. Gastrosteges, 152 : anal divided; urosteges, 37.

Ground color probably red in life; in alcohol it is a clear yellow. A large black spot covers the frontal, and the superciliaries, less their anterior extremities, surrounds the eye, and terminates on tlie loreal, and tlie corresponding superior labials. It extends also on the antero-internal angles of the parietals. Another black spot forms a wide collar interrupted on the median line below. Then follow thirteen transverse rings, each occupying five or six rows of scales on the back, narrowing below, where some of them are interrupted. Two of the rings are so wide as to lead to the belief that each of them consists of two rings united, so that the whole number is sixteen. Tail unspotted. The third, fifth, seventh and ninth interspaces from the head have the scales black-tipped, and are wider than the black bands. The skin has an elegant clear blue reflection. 
CommentSubspecies: Sonora michoacanensis mutabilis STICKEL 1943 has been elevated to full species status. 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality. 
  • Castro-Franco, Rubén, María Guasalupe Bustos-Zagal 1994. List of reptiles of Morelos, Mexico, and their distribution in relation to vegetation types. Southwestern Naturalist 39 (2): 171-175 - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1885. Twelfth contribution to the herpetology of tropical America. Proc. Amer. Philos. Soc. 22: 167-194 [1884] - get paper here
  • Cox, Christian L.; Alison R. Davis Rabosky, Iris A. Holmes, Jacobo Reyes-Velasco, Corey E. Roelke, Eric N. Smith, Oscar Flores-Villela, Jimmy A. McGuire & Jonathan A. Campbell 2018. Synopsis and taxonomic revision of three genera in the snake tribe Sonorini. Journal of Natural History 52: 945-988 - get paper here
  • Cox, Christian L.; Alison R. Davis Rabosky, Jacobo Reyes-Velasco, Paulino Ponce-Campos, Eric N. Smith, Oscar Flores-Villela & Jonathan A. Campbell 2012. Molecular systematics of the genus Sonora (Squamata: Colubridae) in central and western Mexico. Systematics and Biodiversity 10: 93-108 - get paper here
  • Dunn, E. R. 1928. New Central American snakes in the American Museum of Natural History. American Museum Novitates (314): 1-4 - get paper here
  • Echternacht, A.C. 1973. The color pattern of Sonora michoacanensis (Dugès) (Serpentes: Colubridae) and its bearing on the origin of the species. Breviora (410): 1-18 - get paper here
  • FLORES-VILLELA, OSCAR; CÉSAR A. RÍOS-MUÑOZ, GLORIA E. MAGAÑA-COTA & NÉSTOR L. QUEZADAS-TAPIA 2016. Alfredo Dugès’ type specimens of amphibians and reptiles revisited. Zootaxa 4092 (1): 033–054 - get paper here
  • Hall, Charles W. 1951. Notes on a small herpetological collection from Guerreo. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 34 (4): 201-212 - get paper here
  • Harris, H.S., Jr. & R.S. Simmons 1970. A Sonora michoacanensis michoacanensis (Dugés) from Colima, Mexico Bull. Maryland Herpetol. Soc., 6(1): 6-7. - get paper here
  • Heimes, P. 2016. Snakes of Mexico. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 572 pp
  • Lemos-Espinal JA, Smith GR 2020. A conservation checklist of the herpetofauna of Morelos, with comparisons with adjoining states. ZooKeys 941: 121-144 - get paper here
  • Lemos-Espinal JA, Smith GR, Pierce LJS, Painter CW 2020. The amphibians and reptiles of Colima, Mexico, with a summary of their conservation status. ZooKeys 927: 99-125 - get paper here
  • Liner, Ernest A. 2007. A CHECKLIST OF THE AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF MEXICO. Louisiana State University Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural Science 80: 1-60 - get paper here
  • Palacios-Aguilar, Ricardo & OSCAR FLORES-VILLELA 2018. An updated checklist of the herpetofauna from Guerrero, Mexico. Zootaxa 4422 (1): 1-24 - get paper here
  • PONCE-CAMPOS, P., SMITH, H.M., HARRIS, H.S. & CHISZAR, D. 2004. A review of the taxonomic status of the members of the Sonora michoacanensis group (Serpentes: Colubridae). Bull. Maryland Herp. Soc. 40: 144–151 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Karl P.;Shannon, Frederick A. 1947. Notes on amphibians and reptiles of Michoacan, Mexico. Zoological Series of Field Museum of Natural History 31 (9): 63-85
  • Smith, Hobart M. & Taylor, Edward H. 1945. An annotated checklist and key to the snakes of Mexico. Bull. US Natl. Mus. (187): iv + 1-239 - get paper here
  • Stickel, W.H. 1943. The Mexican snakes of the genera Sonora and Chionactis with notes on the status of other colubrid genera. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 56: 109-128 - get paper here
  • Taylor, Edward Harrison 1937. A new snake of the genus Sonora, with comments on S. michoacanensis. Herpetologica 1: 69-72 - get paper here
  • Vázquez Díaz, Joel;Quintero Díaz, Gustavo E. 2005. Anfibios y Reptiles de Aguascalientes [2nd ed.]. CONABIO, CIEMA, 318 pp.
  • 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.
  • Woolrich-Piña, G. A., E. García-Padilla, D. L. DeSantis, J. D. Johnson, V. Mata-Silva, and L. D. Wilson 2017. The herpetofauna of Puebla, Mexico: composition, distribution, and conservation status. Mesoamerican Herpetology 4(4): 791–884 - get paper here
  • Zweifel, Richard G. 1959. Additions to the herpetofauna of Nayarit, Mexico. American Museum Novitates (1953): 1-13 - get paper here
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