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Apostolepis vittata (COPE, 1887)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Beaked Blackhead
Portuguese: Cobrinha-da-Terra 
SynonymRhynchonyx ambiniger vittatus COPE 1887: 56
Apostolepis ambiniger — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 22
Apostolepis vittata — VANZOLINI 1986: 2
Apostolepis vittata — DE LEMA 2002
Apostolepis vittata — WALLACH et al. 2014: 53
Apostolepis vittata — MARTINS & DE LEMA 2015
Apostolepis roncadori LEMA 2016
Apostolepis roncadori — NOGUEIRA et al. 2019
Apostolepis vittata — NOGUEIRA et al. 2019
Apostolepis vittata — ENTIAUSPE-NETO & TIUTENKO 2020 
DistributionBrazil (Mato Grosso), Bolivia (Nuflo de Chaves)

Type locality: Mato Grosso, Brazil.

roncadori: Brazil (Mato Grosso); Type locality: Roncador Hill, Mato Grosso, Brasil  
TypesHolotype: ANSP 11293
Holotype: BMNH 1972.429 [c] 
DiagnosisOriginal description from COPE (1887): This form differs from the typical form described by Peters, in having longitudinal color bands. These are dark-brown, and are located on the fourth, sixth and median rows of scales respectively, occupying only the middle of each row. The space between the sixth rows of opposite sides is pale brown; external to the sixth row and below, dirty white. The entire coloration is so like that of the young of Apostolepis erythronotus lineatus, as to be a case of mimetic analogy. See also A. christinae for comparisons.

Diagnosis: Apostolepis vittata can be distinguished from all its congeners by the following combination of characters: (1) 15/15/15 smooth dorsals, without apical pits; (2) preocular single, contacting nasal; (3) postocular single; (4) loreal absent; (5) temporals 1+0 or absent; (6) supralabials 5, with 2nd and 3rd in contact with orbit; (7) infralabials 6, with first three or four in contact with anterior chinshields; (8) ventrals 227–239 in males; (9) subcaudals 24–28 pairs in males; (10) in life, dorsal background coloration orange or red, with five thin black stripes present or absent, supralabial blotch reaching five supralabials, nuchal collars absent, tail blotch black, up to 12 dorsals wide (white, orange, and red colorations may become indistinct in preservative); (11) in life, ventral pattern similar to dorsal, uniformly light orange, black gular collar absent or present, terminal caudal spine black or white (Entiauspe-Neto & Tiutenko 2020).

Diagnosis (roncadori): Similar to Apostolepis christinei Lema 2002, differing mainly by having a head with same diameter of neck (vs. lower); absence of dorsal stripes, presenting serial dots very spaced among them (vs. five dark stripes); snout blackish (vs. light); supralabial blotch long, from rostral to last supralabial (vs. small, on two supralabials); lower side of rostral plane (vs. reentrant); tail blotch longer (vs. short).

Morphology (roncadori): Stocky body, from head to tail tip. Head few elongate, few wider than neck; snout strongly projected, pointed and flat. Eye large, with vertical diameter equal to the distance of it to oral margin (may be due to be young), in relation to A. christinei. Tail relatively short, more than 15 times in total length; with tip high and rounded.

Measurements (roncadori): Length of head, trunk, tail, and total: 8, 228, 16, and 252, respectively; tail by snout-vent length, 0.034. Head height, 2.5, in parietals; 1, in nostrils; width 3.1 parietals), and 1.8 (nostrils). Orbit diameter, 0.45; distance orbit to oral margin, 0.4. Neck, height and width: 2.7, 2.9, respectively. Body width in half trunk and cloacal region, 3.5, 2.4 respectively. Tail widths: 2.4 )(basis), 2.4 (half), and 1.3 (in subcaudal scale). Length of last subcaudal and terminal, 0.5, and 1.04, respectively. Largest head shields: rostral portion visible from above, 1.57; suture between prefrontals, 0.45; each prefrontal length and width, 1.34 and 1.07, respectively; frontal length and width, 2.06, 1.7, respectively; each parietal length and width, 2.5, 1.41, respectively; suture between parietals, 1.67.

Pholidosis (roncadori): Rostral large, flattened, pointed and projecting two beyond jaws; lower projecting side, plane. Prefrontals small. Frontal large, hexagonal. Supraoculars narrow and small. Parietals long, and divergent each other. Nasal long and low, with nostril in anterior part. Preocular long and low, larger than postocular. Postocular vertical rectangle. Temporal absent. Supralabials five, seccond and third entering the orbit, the size increased to rear; the first long and rectangular (not triangular); from second to fourth are isodiametrical; fifth is the largest, with posterior margin curved. Mental triangular and small, isolated of the anterior chin-shields by first pair of infralabials. Infralabials six, the anterior three contacting anterior chin-shields, and the anterior pair contacting each other, rear of mental; the infralabials increasing to rear, being the first narrow, the second longer, the third is the largest, the fourth is large, and the two last are very small and long Each gular with parallelogram shape, and disposed in six row by each side, resting six in the median line. Five preventrals. Ventrals in 239. Cloacal single, as anomaly. Subcaudals 24 pairs; rate between subcaudals and ventrals, 0.1. Dorsal scales in six rows in the tail contacting the terminal, which is high and few conic, with dorsal profile oblique.

Coloration (roncadori): (In preservative, ethylic alcohol). Pileus blackish brown (may be black in life), with some small and irregular light brown blotches on rostral. Black nuchal collar long as 2-3 rows of dorsal scales; reaching to sides until oral rictus, only, do not reaching the gular region. Supralabial blotch low and long, from anterior margin of the fifth to rostral. Lower head side immaculate. No dorsal stripes, only few spaced dots on vertebral scales row. Tail blotch extending by nine dorsal scales, reducing to seven rows at lower sides, and covering 4/3 subcaudals (right/left), which are partially dotted. Terminal white, except proximal up. 
CommentAbundance: very rare. Apostolepis vittata remained known only from its holotype, until Harvey (1999), more than 100 years after its description, reported two individuals from Bolivia, which, however, differed greatly from the holotype. Hence, the status of Bolivian populations needs to be reassessed. Lema and Renner (2004) later reported the discovery of 2 new specimens from Mato Grosso, Brazil.

Synonymy: A. roncadori was synonymized with A. vittata by Entiauspe-Neto & Tiutenko 2020.

Similar species: A. vittata is very similar to A. christineae, hence they may be synonymous (Entiauspe-Neto & Tiutenko 2020). 
  • ALBUQUERQUE, NELSON RUFINO DE & THALES DE LEMA 2012. Description of the second known specimen of Apostolepis intermedia (Serpentes, Colubridae, Xenodontinae). Zootaxa 3325: 53–58 - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1887. Synopsis of the Batrachia and Reptilia obtained by H. H. Smith in the Province of Mato Grosso, Brazil. Proc. Amer. Philos. Soc. 24: 44-60 - get paper here
  • Entiauspe-Neto, Omar M. & Arthur Tiutenko 2020. ON THE TAXONOMIC STATUS OF APOSTOLEPIS RONCADORI LEMA, 2016 AND APOSTOLEPIS VITTATA (COPE, 1887) (SERPENTES: DIPSDIDAE). Rev. Latinoamer. Herp. 3 (2): 114-119
  • FRANÇA, DANIELLA. P. F.; FAUSTO E. BARBO, NELSON J. SILVA-JÚNIOR, HELDER L. R. SILVA, HUSSAM ZAHER 2018. A new species of Apostolepis (Serpentes, Dipsadidae, Elapomorphini) from the Cerrado of Central Brazil. Zootaxa 4521 (4): 438-552 - get paper here
  • Gonzalez R. C. et al. 2020. Lista dos Nomes Populares dos Répteis no Brasil – Primeira Versão. Herpetologia Brasileira 9 (2): 121 – 214 - get paper here
  • Lema, T. de 2002. Nova espécie de Apostolepis do grupo lineata do sudoeste do Brasil (Serpentes, Elapomorphinae). Facena 18: 41-52 - get paper here
  • Lema, T. de 2004. Nova espécie de Apostolepis COPE do estado de RONDÔNIA, Brasil (Serpentes, Elapomorphinae). Comunicações do Museu Ciência Tecnologia (PUCRS), Porto Alegre, 17 (2): 81-89
  • Lema, T. de 2016. DESCRIPTION OF NEW SPECIES OF Apostolepis (SERPENTES: DIPSADIDAE: XENODONTINAE: ELAPOMORPHINI) FROM SERRA DO RONCADOR, CENTRAL BRAZIL. Caderno de Pesquisa, série Biologia 28 (1): 1-12 - get paper here
  • Lema, T. de & M. F. Renner 2004. NEW SPECIMENS OF APOSTOLEPIS VITTATA (COPE 1887) (Serpentes, Elapomorphinae). Caderno de Pesquisa série Biologia (Santa Cruz do Sul) 16 (1): 51-56
  • Lema, T. de & Renner, M.F. 2006. A new species of Apostolepis with striped pattern from Mato Grosso, Brasil (Serpentes, Elapomorphine). Ciência em movimento 8: 13-18
  • Lema, Thales de 2001. Fossorial snake genus Apostolepis from South America (Serpentes: Colubridae: Elapomorphinae). Cuadernos de herpetología 15 (1): 29-43.
  • Martins, L.A. & Lema, T. de 2015. Elapomorphini (Serpentes, Xenodontinae) do Brasil sudoeste. Neotropical Biology and Conservation 10(2): 93-102; doi: 10.4013/nbc.2015.102.05 - get paper here
  • Nogueira, Cristiano C.; Antonio J.S. Argôlo, Vanesa Arzamendia, Josué A. Azevedo, Fausto E. Barbo, Renato S. Bérnils, Bruna E. Bolochio, Marcio Borges-Martins, Marcela Brasil-Godinho, Henrique Braz, Marcus A. Buononato, Diego F. Cisneros-Heredia, 2019. Atlas of Brazilian snakes: verified point-locality maps to mitigate the Wallacean shortfall in a megadiverse snake fauna. South American J. Herp. 14 (Special Issue 1):1-274 - get paper here
  • Nogueira, Cristiano; Fausto Erritto Barbo and Hebert Ferrarezzi 2012. Redescription of Apostolepis albicollaris Lema, 2002, with a Key for the Species Groups of the Genus Apostolepis (Serpentes: Dipsadidae: Elapomorphini). South American J. Herp. 7 (3): 213-225 - get paper here
  • Peters & Orejas-Miranda 1972. The taxonomic validity of Apostolepis tenuis Ruthven and Apostolepis vittata (Cope) (Serpentes: Colubridae). Copeia 1972 (3): 588-590 - get paper here
  • Peters, J.A., Orejas-Miranda,B. & Vanzolini,P.E. 1986. Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata (Revised Edition) Part I: Snakes. Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington D.C., London)
  • Santos FM dos, Entiauspe-Neto OM, Araújo JS, de Souza MB, de Lema T, Strussmann C, de Albuquerque NR 2018. A new species of burrowing snake (Serpentes: Dipsadidae: Apostolepis) from the state of Mato Grosso, Central-West region of Brazil. Zoologia 35: 1-10 - 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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