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Atractus gigas MYERS & SCHARGEL, 2006

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymAtractus gigas MYERS & SCHARGEL 2006
Atractus gigas — WALLACH et al. 2014: 73 
DistributionEcuador (Bosque Protector Rio Guajalito, Pichincha, Pacific versant of the Andes), NE Peru, 600-2300 m elevation.

Type locality: Bosque Protector Río Guajalito, Pichincha, Ecuador (00° 14’ S, 78° 49’ W).  
TypesHolotype: USFQ 194 (was FHGO, Fundación Herpetológica ‘‘Gustavo Orcé́s’’), an adult female, Collected by Vlastimil Zak in January 1990. 
DiagnosisDIAGNOSIS: Atractus gigas is distinguished from all species of Atractus by its unparalleled large size (> 1 m) and robust body (fig. 5). It differs from adult specimens of other large species (≥ 700 mm) in having pale dorsal crossbars (indistinct in the only known spec- imen) rather than a false coral snake pattern (A. obesus) or definite dark markings on a brown ground color (A. depressiocellus, A. major, A. torquatus). See Comparisons for further comments. Although the juvenile color pattern of Atractus gigas is unknown, young specimens conceivably might be confused with a few much smaller species of Atractus from the Pacific versant of Ecuador. Atractus dunni has fewer ventrals (125–136 in males, 138–150 in females) than A. gigas (170 in one female) and small dark spots dorsally (Cisneros-Heredia, 2005). Atractus multicinctus differs from A. gigas in having 5 or 6 maxillary teeth (8 in gigas) and a mostly white venter (mostly grayish brown in gigas). Atractus paucidens also differs from A. gigas in having 5 or 6 maxillary teeth, and it has 4 infralabials in contact with the genials (3 in gigas). Atractus multicinctus and A. paucidens are rather slender snakes, whereas A. gigas juveniles are expected to have relatively stout bodies. 
CommentDescription: A. gigas is a very robust snake that exceeds a meter in length (adult female holotype 1040 mm in total length), with a hint of pale transverse dorsal bars on a brown ground color. It is the largest known Atractus, differing in color pattern and details of scutellation from the several other congeners that attain lengths > 700 mm. The only known specimen has an azygous frontonasal scale that is atypical of colubrids (but is not an obvious aberrancy). 
EtymologyThe species name gigas (a giant) is a Latin noun of Greek origin. (The gigantes or giants, born of Mother Earth, were enormous beings who had thick serpents for legs. They fought a losing battle with the gods and man.) 
  • Arteaga AF, Bustamante-Enríquez LM and Guayasamin JM 2013. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Mindo. - get paper here
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Myers, Charles W. Schargel, Walter E. 2006. Morphological extremes - two new snakes of the genus Atractus from northwestern South America (Colubridae: Dipsadinae). American Museum Novitates (3532):1-13 - get paper here
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Passos, P., Dobiey, M., & Venegas, P. J. 2010. Variation and natural history notes on giant groundsnake, Atractus gigas (Serpentes: Dipsadidae). South American J. Herp. 5 (2): 73-82 - get paper here
  • PASSOS, PAULO; AGUSTÍN SCANFERLA; PAULO R. MELO-SAMPAIO; JORGE BRITO; ANA ALMENDARIZ 2018. A giant on the ground: another large-bodied Atractus (Serpentes: Dipsadinae) from Ecuadorian Andes, with comments on the dietary specializations of the goo-eaters snakes. An. Acad. Bras. Ciênc. - get paper here
  • Tolhurst, Bryony; Mika Peck, Jorge Noe Morales, Tim Cane, and Ian Recchio 2010. Extended distribution of a recently described dipsadine colubrid snake: Atractus gigas. Herpetology Notes 3: 073-075
  • Torres-Carvajal O, Pazmiño-Otamendi G, Salazar-Valenzuela D. 2019. Reptiles of Ecuador: a resource-rich portal, with a dynamic checklist and photographic guides. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13 (1): [General Section]: 209–229 (e178) - 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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