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Synophis bicolor PERACCA, 1896

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae),Diaphorolepidini,
Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Common NamesE: Bicolored Shadow Snake
S: Culebra Andinas de la Sombra bicolores 
SynonymSynophis bicolor PERACCA 1896
Synophis bicolor — BOGERT 1964: 515
Synophis bicolor — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 288
Synophis bicolor — WALLACH et al. 2014: 692 
DistributionEcuador (Amazonas)

Type locality: “America meridionale”.  
TypesHolotype: MRSN (= MSNTO = MZUT) R257 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Colubrid snakes with keeleddorsal scales, without apical pits, arranged in 23 to 21 rows anteriorly, normally, but not always (with the loss of the 4th row or its fusion with the 5th) diminishing in number to 2l or 79 at midbody and to 21, 19 or 17 at the vent; keels, less strongly developed in the lateral rows of scales,may be lacking on those contiguous to the ventrals. Anal plate and prefrontal undivided, loreal present or absent, nasal single or divided. Hypapophyses present on vertebrae throughout the trunk. The hypapophysis extends to an apex that projects beyond the centrum; preygapophyses and postzygapophyses greatly expanded and united, thus forming parallel lateral edgeson the vertebrae. On the vertebrae of adults the neural spine is expanded and flamened, with a median groove on a crest that extends forward to paired extremities projecting above the zygosphene. Maxillary teeth 27 to 27, two or three at the rear slightly enlarged but not separated by a diastema. Hemipenis extending to level of 6th or 7th caudal, distally bifurcate, the division of the sulcusat the level of the 4th or 5th caudal. Spines in approximately six rows, enlarged and hook-like near the base, but diminishing in size distally, and replaced by calyces with crenulated edgeson the lobes. Pupil round. [BOGERT 1964: 515]
CommentSynonymy: Amaral (1929) considered the holotype of Synophis bicolor (at the time the only known specimen from the only known species) to be synonymous with Diaphorolepis wagneri.

Diet: gymnophthalmid lizards (Pyron et al. 2016).

Type species: Synophis bicolor PERACCA 1896 is the type species of the genus Synophis PERACCA 1896.

S. bicolor was split into 4 species by TORRES-CARVAJAL et al. 2015.

Description (genus). Relatively small-sized (~300mm SVL) dipsadine snakes of the Andes and Chocó of Colombia and Ecuador, with 16–27 maxillary teeth, 7–11 infralabials, 7–9 supralabials, fused prefrontals, loreal present, 1 or 2 postoculars, 144–184 ventrals, 88– 138 subcaudals, dorsal scales in (19–21)-(17–21)-(17–20) rows, neural spine expanded and flattened, laterally expanded zygapophyses, and hemipenes slightly bilobed, semicalyculate, and semicapitate, relatively stout and bulbous, covered in large spines or hooks [PYRON et al. 2015: 126].

Description (species). Small-sized (~200–400mm SVL) dipsadine snakes of the Andes and Chocó of Colombia and Ecuador, diagnosable by 16–27 maxillary teeth, 9–12 infralabials, 8 or 9 supralabials, fused prefrontals, loreal present, 2 postoculars, 152– 193 ventrals, 96–143 subcaudals, dorsal scales in (19–21)-(17–19)-(17–18) weakly keeled rows, neural spine expanded and flattened, laterally expanded zygapophyses, and hemipenes slightly bilobed, semicalyculate, and semicapitate, relatively stout and bulbous, covered in large spines or hooks. Populations of this species are found in both lowland Chocóan rainforest and Andean cloud forests. Individuals are often found in leaf litter or in bushes, active at night. One collection from the Pacific Andean slopes of Ecuador (UMMZ 185886–185891) represents clutches of 2, 2, and 8 eggs, with hatchlings 125–132mm SVL. Nothing is known of diet [PYRON et al. 2015: 127]. 
EtymologyNone given by Peracca (1896); the Greek syn- means “with” or “together” and ophis means “snake”. The species name is presumably from the Greek bi-color
for “two colors,” referring to the dark dorsum and light venter.

Some dictionaries called this species “Two-colored Fishing Snake” but there is no evidence this species eats fish (Pyron e al. 2016). 
  • Bogert, C.M. 1964. Snakes of the genera Diaphorelepis and Synophis and the colubrid subfamily Xenodermidae (Reptilia, colubridae). Senckenbergiana biologica 45: 509-531.
  • Hillis, D. M. 1990. A new species of xenodontine colubrid snake of the genus Synophis from Ecuador and the phylogeny of the genera Synophis and Emmochliophis. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural History (University of Kansas), (135):1-9 - get paper here
  • Nicéforo-Maria, H. 1970. Contribución al conocimiento de los ofidios de Colombia. Rev. Acad. Colomb. Cienc. 210: 1-6
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Peracca, M. G. 1896. Nuovo genere di Colubride aglifo dell'America meridionale. Boll. Mus. Zool. Comp. Anat. Univ. Torino 11 (266): 1-2
  • Pérez-Santos,C. & Moreno, A.G. 1988. Ofidios de Colombia. Museo reegionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino, Monographie VI, 517 pp.
  • Peters, James A.; Donoso-Barros, Roberto & Orejas-Miranda, Braulio 1970. Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: Part I Snakes. Part II Lizards and Amphisbaenians. Bull. US Natl. Mus. 297: 347 pp. - get paper here
  • Pyron RA, Guayasamin JM, Peñafiel N, Bustamante L, Arteaga A 2015. Systematics of Nothopsini (Serpentes, Dipsadidae), with a new species of Synophis from the Pacific Andean slopes of southwestern Ecuador. ZooKeys 541: 109-147, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.541.6058 - get paper here
  • PYRON, R. ALEXANDER; ALEJANDRO ARTEAGA, LOURDES Y. ECHEVARRÍA, OMAR TORRES-CARVAJAL 2016. A revision and key for the tribe Diaphorolepidini (Serpentes: Dipsadidae) and checklist for the genus Synophis. Zootaxa 4171 (2): 293–320 - get paper here
  • Torres-Carvajal O, Echevarría LY, Venegas PJ, Chávez G, Camper JD 2015. Description and phylogeny of three new species of Synophis (Colubridae, Dipsadinae) from the tropical Andes in Ecuador and Peru. ZooKeys 546: 153-179, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.546.6533 - get paper here
  • 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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