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Apostolepis niceforoi AMARAL, 1935

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Colombian Blackhead, Amazon Burrowing Snake 
SynonymApostolepis niceforoi AMARAL 1935: 221
Apostolepis niceforoi AMARAL 1937: 1764
Apostolepis niceforoi — DE LEMA 2002
Apostolepis niceforoi — WALLACH et al. 2014: 52 
DistributionColombia (Amazonas)

Type locality: Colombia, Bajo Caqueta, La Pedrera (1°19’27.70” S—69°35’1.24”W, coordinates estimated based on municipality)  
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesHolotype: lost, was IBSP (= IB), Collected by I. Niceforo Maria on an unknown date previous to 1935. Specimen lost in the Instituto
Butantan fire of 2010 (Entiauspe-Neto et al. 2020).
Other specimens: ICN-R 10422 (field tag GFM 084, from Florencia municipality, corregimiento de Orteguaza, vereda San Antonio de Atenas, sector Sebastopol (1°42’4.65”N—75°35’9.47”W), 593 m above sea level, Caquetá department, Colombia.
Collected by GFM, on 5 January 2005 in leaflitter of Amazonian Andean foothill tropical rainforest. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Apostolepis niceforoi can be distinguished from all its congeners by the following combination of characters: (1) 15/15/15 smooth dorsal without apical pits; (2) preocular single, contacting nasal; (3) loreal absent; (4) temporals 0+1; (5) supralabials six, with 2nd and 3rd in contact with orbit; (6) infralabials six, with first four in contact with chinshield; (7) ventrals 246–248 (246 in the single male, 248 in female); (8) subcaudals 21–23 pairs (21 in the single male, 23 in female); (9) in preservative, dorsal pattern uniform yellow, head dorsally yellow, frontals, supraoculars and temporals with brown margin, tear shaped brown blotch on supralabials 2–3, white supralabial blotch large, covering most of supralabials 4–5, dorsal pattern with five large (two rows) dark brown and two thin (one row) lateral stripes, small black tail blotch, ventral pattern uniform yellow (Entiauspe-Neto et al. 2020).

Coloration in life: Dorsum of head and background body yellow ocher, the dark pattern on the head and body are similar to those described for the specimen
preserved in alcohol, although colors are more intense. Ventral head and body surface straw yellow, chin and throat with black pigmentation on edge of infralabials
and mental scale. Dorsal black tail blotch with terminal spine straw yellow (Entiauspe-Neto et al. 2020).

Comparisons: Apostolepis niceforoi occurs close (although not in sympatry) to three striped congeners, Apostolepis nigrolineata, Apostolepis nigroterminata, and Apostolepis quinquelineata. Of these, A. nigroterminata has been recorded in Amazonian Lowland Forest in Acre, northern Brazil, not far from the type locality of A. niceforoi (960 Km south). Apostolepis niceforoi differs from A. nigroterminata in having seven dorsal brown stripes (vs. three), white nuchal collar absent (vs. present), and a lightyellow background coloration (vs. brown or red). The taxonomic status of the other two species (A. nigrolineata and A. quinquelineata) remains largely confused, as both species have been synonymized and revalidated several times; in light of this, comparisons are made exclusively to the type series of A. nigrolineata, A. quinquelineata, and Apostolepis pymi (currently considered a synonym of A. nigrolineata). Further comparisons are provided in Table 1. From the type series of A. nigrolineata, A. niceforoi can be distinguished based on slightly lower segmental counts (vs. ventrals 256, subcaudals 26), a dorsal black tail blotch (vs. ventral and dorsal), and dorsal stripes number and width (vs. five dorsal stripes, three with one scale of width, two with half a scale of width). From the type series of A. quinquelineata, A. niceforoi can be readily diagnosed based on higher segmental counts (vs. ventrals 213, subcaudals 28), larger size (vs. 165 mm total length), yellow parietal scales with brown edges (vs. uniform brown), and a large supralabial blotch (small supralabial blotch). From A. pymi, it can be diagnosed based on higher segmental counts (vs. ventrals 209, subcaudals 35), dorsal stripes (vs. three), and a small dorsal tail black blotch (vs. large, dorsal and ventral). Apostolepis niceforoi can be readily distinguished from Apostolepis adhara França, Barbo, Silva-Jr., Silva & Zaher, 2018, Apostolepis albicollaris (Lema, 2002), Apostolepis ambiniger (Peters, 1869), Apostolepis ammodites Ferrarezzi, Barbo & Albuquerque 2005, Apostolepis arenaria (Rodrigues, 1993), Apostolepis assimilis (Reinhardt, 1861), Apostolepis breviceps Harvey, Gonzales & Scrocchi, 2001, Apostolepis cearensis Gomes, 1915, Apostolepis cerradoensis (Lema, 2003), Apostolepis christineae (Lema, 2002), Apostolepis dimidiata (Jan, 1862), Apostolepis dorbignyi (Schlegel, 1837), Apostolepis flavotorquata Duméril, Bibron & Duméril, 1854, Apostolepis goiasensis (Prado, 1942), Apostolepis intermedia (Koslowsky, 1898), Apostolepis kikoi Santos, Entiauspe-Neto, Araújo, Souza, Lema, Strüssmann & Albuquerque, 2018, Apostolepis lineata Cope, 1887, Apostolepis longicaudata (Gomes, 1921), Apostolepis multicincta (Harvey, 1999), Apostolepis nelsonjorgei Lema & Renner, 2004, Apostolepis phillipsi (Harvey, 1999), Apostolepis polylepis (Amaral, 1921), Apostolepis quirogai Giraudo & Scrocchi, 1998, Apostolepis serrana Lema & Renner, 2008, Apostolepis striata (Lema, 2004), Apostolepis tenuis (Ruthven, 1927), Apostolepis thalesdelemai Borges-Nojosa, Lima, Bezerra & James, 2016, Apostolepis underwoodi Lema & Campbell, 2017, and Apostolepis vittata (Cope, 1887) in its dorsal stripes number, width and coloration (vs. dorsal stripes absent, two, three, five, or eleven, over an unknown, red, brown, ochre yellow, or orange background in life). The only congener to which A. niceforoi shares having seven dorsal stripes is Apostolepis gaboi Rodrigues, 1993, to which it can be promptly diagnosed based on the lower number of infralabials (vs. eight), nasalpreocular contact (vs. absent), higher number of ventrals (vs. 190–238), and background dorsal color (vs. orange) (Entiauspe-Neto et al. 2020). 
CommentDistribution: Not in Brazil fide COSTA & BERNILS 2015.

Only known from 2 specimens, the type (now lost) and another specimen described by Entiauspe-Neto et al. 2020. 
References
  • Amaral, A. 1935. Estudos sobre ophídios neotropicos XXXIII. Novas especies de ophídios do Colombia. Mem. Inst. Butantan 9: 219-223 + 1 plate - get paper here
  • Amaral,A. do 1937. New species of ophidians from Colombia. Compte Rendu 12th Congress Internat. Zool., Lisbon 3 [139 (141)]: 1762-1767 [1935]
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Costa, Henrique Caldeira & Renato Silveira Bérnils 2015. Répteis brasileiros: lista de espécies 2015. Herpetologia Brasileira 4 (3): 75-93
  • Entiauspe-Neto, Omar M.; Guido Fabian Medina Rangel, Thaís Barreto Guedes, & Arthur Tiutenko 2020. Raising of Lazarus: Rediscovery and redescription of Apostolepis niceforoi Amaral, 1935 (Serpentes: Dipsadidae: Elapomorphini). Holotipus I (2): 21-35 - get paper here
  • Lema, Thales de 2001. Fossorial snake genus Apostolepis from South America (Serpentes: Colubridae: Elapomorphinae). Cuadernos de herpetología 15 (1): 29-43.
  • Pérez-Santos,C. & Moreno, A.G. 1988. Ofidios de Colombia. Museo reegionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino, Monographie VI, 517 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.
 
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