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Atractus marthae MENESES-PELAYO & PASSOS, 2019

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Martha’s Groundsnake
S: Culebras Tierreras de Martha 
SynonymAtractus marthae MENESES-PELAYO & PASSOS 2019 
DistributionColombia (Santander)

Type locality: Colombia, department of Santander, municipality of Santa Bárbara, Vereda Esparta, 07°01'5.38''N, 72°53'43.04''W, ca. 2400 m elevation.  
TypesHolotype: UIS R 3027, adult male, E. Meneses-Pelayo, 23 October 2014. Paratypes: (111 specimens, all collected or legated by first author from the department of Santander, Colombia): Reserva el Diviso, 0780306.1600N (note: coordinates verbatim copied from paper, hence erroneous), 72859011.9700W, ca. 2400 m asl, municipality of Piedecuesta: UIS-R 1734, 5 May 2007; Vereda Potrero Grande, 06850046.9600N, 72851020.6700W, ca. 2220 m asl, municipality of Guaca: UIS-R 3248–49, 20 November 2015; Vereda Esparta, 0780105.3800N, 72853043.0400W, ca. 2400 m asl, municipality of Santa Ba ́rbara: IAvH 9046 (formerly UIS-R 3021), IAvH-R 9045 (formerly UIS-R 3020), IUCN-R 13168 (formerly UIS-R 3022), IUCN-R 13169 (formerly UIS-R 3024), MHUA 15283–84 (formerly UIS-R 3018–19), UIS-R 3017, UIS-R 3023, UIS-R 3025–26, UIS-R 3028–35, UIS-R 3054, 23 October 2014; UIS-R 3038–44, UIS-R 3053, UIS-R 3055, 20 December 2014; UIS-R 3061–74, 22 February 2015; UIS-R 3090–98, UIS-R 3100, UIS-R 3262–63, 14 March 2015; UIS-R 3108–14, UIS-R 3120–25, 25 April 2015; UIS-R 3138–44, 23 May 2015; UIS-R 3148–54, UIS-R 3156, 28 June 2015; UIS-R 3172–78, UIS-R 3193, 25 July 2015; UIS-R 3194–97, 29 August 2015; UIS-R 3198–3205, 19 September 2015; UIS-R 3251–55, 20 November 2015. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Atractus marthae is distinguished from all congeners by unique combination of the following characters: (1) dorsal scale rows smooth in 17/17/17; (2) postoculars two; (3) long loreal; (4) temporals usually 1þ2; (5) supralabials usually seven, third and fourth contacting the orbit; (6) infralabials usually seven, first three contacting chinshields; (7) maxillary teeth seven to ten; (8) gular scale rows usually four; (9) preventrals usually four; (10) ventrals 156–174 in females, 153–169 in males; (11) subcaudals 20–30 in females, 23–30 in males; (12) dorsum with variable coloration and pattern, presenting green to red ground color with broad black vertebral line (four scales wide) or narrow vertebral line (one scale wide) and two dorsolateral bands; (13) ventral ground color varying from cream with irregular black spots to belly mostly black with a few cream blotches anteriorly, usually posterior region of body and ventral surface of tail uniformly black; (14) moderately long body size, females reaching 346 mm SVL, males 307 mm; (15) small tail length in females (7.9–10.2% of SVL), small to moderately long in males (8.1–14.4% SVL); (16) hemipenis moderately bilobed (lobe size equivalent to the capitulum length), semicapitated and semicalyculated.

Comparisons. Among all currently recognized species of Atractus from the Cordillera Oriental of Colombia, Sierra de Perija ́ in the Colombia/Venezuela frontier and Cordillera de Me ́rida in Venezuela, the new species shared conspicuous and regular longitudinal stripes (lacking paravertebral connections with spots and/or transversal blotches) only with Venezuelan species A. emigdioi, A. mariselae, and A. taphorni. Atractus marthae differs from A. taphorni by having 17/17/17 dorsal scale rows and two dorsal-lateral stripes (vs. 15/15/15 rows of dorsal scales and absence of dorsal-lateral lines in A. taphorni); differs from A. mariselae by having three longitudinal stripes, 20–30 subcaudals in females and 23–30 in males (vs. reticulated brown dorsal coloration with two narrow dorsolateral lines; 31–33 subcaudals in females and 36–39 in males); differs from A. emigdioi by having belly mostly black with irregularly distributed and few dispersed square cream spots and hemipenis moderately bilobed, semicapitated and semicalyculated (vs. belly with a broad black central stripe with cream lateral lines on the paraventral region or with midline divided in two black longitudinal stripes cream bordered; hemipenis slightly bilobed, non-capitated and non-calyculated).
Considering the congeners with overlapping ranges of distribution, Atractus marthae occur sympatrically or parapatrically only with A. pamplonensis, A. variegatus, and A. wagleri along the Cordillera Oriental of Colombia. The new species differs from all of them by having dorsum with three continuous and conspicuous dorsal-lateral stripes from the neck to the tip of the tail (vs. variable color pattern but lacking longitudinal lines or stripes in A. pamplonensis, A. variegatus, and A. wagleri). 
CommentHabitat: under rocks, on trails of well-conserved forested areas dominated by Quercus humboldtii, in pastures of short grasses (savannas) with high density of rocks, very humid soils, and little arborization, as well as in areas of blackberry crops.

Behavior: active during crepuscular periods between 1700–1830 hrs

Diet: probably earthworms 
EtymologyThe new species is named herein in honor of Martha Patricia Ramírez-Pinilla for her invaluable contribution to the knowledge of the biology of Colombian amphibians and reptiles. Furthermore, we would like to acknowledge her dedicated vocation as a professor at the Universidad Industrial de Santander, during which she has contributed to the formation of many generations of herpetologists. 
  • Meneses-Pelayo, Elson & Paulo Passos 2019. New Polychromatic Species of Atractus (Serpentes: Dipsadidae) from the Eastern Portion of the Colombian Andes. Copeia 107 (2): 250-261 - get paper here
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