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Dendrophidion apharocybe CADLE, 2012

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymDendrophidion apharocybe CADLE 2012
Dendrophidion dendrophis — GAIGE et al 1937: 12 (part)
Dendrophidion vinitor — SMITH 1941: 74–75 (part)
Dendrophidion apharocybe — WALLACH et al. 2014: 224 
DistributionCosta Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama

Type locality: Finca La Selva, 40 m elevation, Heredia Province, Costa Rica  
TypesHolotype: LACM 148593, an adult male. Collected 9 December 1974 by C. Dock, Carl Lieb, and Catherine Toft. The holotype is 908 mm total length; 574 mm SVL; 334 mm tail length (complete); (Figs. 2B, 7, 14C). Paratypes: USNM 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Dendrophidion apharocybe is characterized by (1) dorsocaudal reduction from 8 to 6 occurring posterior to subcaudal 25 (range, 26–63); (2) single anal plate; (3) relatively low subcaudal counts (<130 in males and females); (4) black-edged pale crossbands on the neck nearly always more than one scale row wide; (5) immaculate ventrals and subcaudals except for lateral dark pigment; (6) a relatively short hemipenis with a bulbous apex strongly inclined toward the sulcate side (asulcate edge of apex higher than sulcate edge) and largely devoid of ornamentation (apex nude). The combination of few subcaudals and a single anal plate will distinguish D. apharocybe from all other species of Dendrophidion except D. vinitor, D. crybelum, and D. paucicarinatum.
Dendrophidion apharocybe differs from species of the D. percarinatum group (D. bivittatum, D. brunneum, D. paucicarinatum,D.percarinatum)in having the dorsocaudal reduction from 8 to 6 usually posterior to subcaudal 30 (26–30 in some specimens from Costa Rica and Panama; see Sexual Dimorphism and Geographic Trends). A single anal plate will distinguish D. apharocybe from all of these except some individuals of D. paucicarinatum (anal plate variable in this species). Dendrophidion paucicarinatum usually has a more uniformly colored dorsum lacking distinct crossbands, has narrow dark lines across the venter in adults and many juveniles, has a higher number of ventrals (>175 compared with <170 in D. apharocybe), and has more weakly keeled dorsal scales. Dendrophidion apharocybe differs from D. boshelli in having 17 midbody scale rows (15 in D. boshelli). Dendrophidion apharocybe has fewer subcaudals (<130) and usually a shorter adult relative tail length (<60% of SVL) than D. nuchale auctorum and D. dendrophis (>130 and usually >60% of SVL, respectively); the anal plate may be either single or divided in these last two species, and their venters are often heavily marked with dark pigment (immaculate in D. apharocybe) (CADLE 2012: 200).

Coloration: Dendrophidion apharocybe and D. crybelum are very similar in color patterns, but D. apharocybe has immaculate ventrals and subcaudals, whereas adult D. crybelum have small dark spots on the posterior ventrals and the subcaudals (juveniles sometimes have only dark suffusion on the subcaudals); see species account for D. crybelum for details. Dendrophidion apharocybe averages more pale body bands (Table 1) than D. crybelum (p < 0.001) and fewer than D. vinitor (p < 0.001), but the ranges overlap greatly in each case. D. apharocybe and D. vinitor differ in aspects of color pattern (see species account for D. vinitor) (CADLE 2012: 200).

Coloration in Life. Color photographs of D. apharocybe from the type locality are published in Savage (2002, pl. 416), Solórzano (2004, fig. 60), and Guyer and Donnelly (2005, pl. 149); from other Costa Rican localities in Stafford and Meyer (2000, pl. 113) and Ko ̈hler (2003, fig. 479); from Honduras in Wilson et al. (2003, fig. 4; same photograph but with distinctly red/ orange tones in McCranie et al. [2006, pl. 120]) and McCranie (2011, pl. 6D); from Nicaragua in Ko ̈hler (2008, fig. 581); and from Panama in Ko ̈hler (2003, fig. 478; 2008, fig. 580). A black and white photograph of the head/neck (La Selva, Costa Rica) is in Lieb (1991).
Salient characteristics of adult coloration in life, as described by Stafford (1998),
Savage (2002: 656), Guyer and Donnelly (2005: 185), McCranie et al. (2006: 148), McCranie (2011: 112), and Charles W. Myers (field notes for KU 107646; AMNH R-108693, R-115922, R-119377) include a gray to brown dorsum with a series of dark-edged pale grayish to pale brown crossbands (ground color or crossbands often with reddish or orange tones, especially on head, anterior and midbody). Posteriorly, pale bands tend to become invested with dark pigment, forming transverse series of pale ocelli set within darker pigment. Posterior ocelli are not mentioned in all color descriptions, but they are visible in virtually every published photo from throughout the range. Often a pale vertebral line posteriorly. Usually a narrow lateral dark line on dorsal rows 2 and/or 3 on the posterior body (sometimes indistinct) and a similar dark line at the subcaudal/dorsocaudal border. Skin between the anterior dorsal scales pale blue or bluish white. Top of head brown, sometimes invested with reddish or greenish tones. Supralabials and throat pale to bright yellow. Venter in adults whitish to yellow, often with an orangish or greenish wash. Juveniles similar to adults but reddish or orange tones in dorsal ground color reduced or absent; venter usually whitish, greenish white, or orange/yellow.
Guyer and Donnelly (2005: 185) described specimens from the type locality as follows: Dorsum gray brown anteriorly, shading to brown posteriorly. Crossbands pale grayish tan bordered by dark. Anteriormost interspace between pale bands rusty red, the rest gray brown. Skin between the anterior dorsal scales pale blue, creating a bluish tint to the light bands or, when the lung is expanded, a blue band. Posterior body middorsal tan stripe interrupted by thin, dark bands that shade to gray laterally. Venter immaculate white to light yellow. Head gray brown. Supralabials brownish anteriorly, white to pale yellow posteriorly.
Figure 9 illustrates an adult female D. apharocybe from Panama, whose coloration in life was described thus (Charles W. Myers, field notes): Head brown, turning gray-brown on neck and then greenish brown over rest of body. Pale crossbands gray anteriorly, pale orange at midbody, pale brown posteriorly. Skin within cross-
bands bright yellow except on anterior one-third of body, where it is orange for a short distance just behind the head and bluish white thereafter. Labials, underside of head, and neck golden yellow, turning golden orange over rest of venter. Upper one-fourth of iris tan, lower three-quarters gray brown with a few darker brown spots. Tongue, including fork, black (CADLE 2012: 202).

Hemipenes: Dendrophidion apharocybe differs from D. crybelum (characters in parentheses) in the following hemipenial characters: hemipenis rather short and with a bulbous apex comprising well over one-third the length of the organ (longer and cylindrical, without a distinctly expanded apex that comprises one-fourth or less the length of the hemipenis); apex strongly inclined toward the sulcate side and nude (not inclined and ornamented with many free-standing membranous ridges having embedded spinules); hemipenis with relatively few moderately enlarged spines, total enlarged spines <45 (many greatly enlarged spines, total enlarged spines >70). Hemipenes of D. apharocybe and D. vinitor are similar in overall shape, but the apex of the former is nude and strongly inclined toward the sulcate side, and it lacks an apical boss. The hemipenis of D. vinitor has a highly ornate apex, including an apical boss, and it is not strongly inclined (see detailed hemipenial descriptions) (CADLE 2012: 200). 
CommentSimilar species: Dendrophidion apharocybe previously has been confused with another new species, D. crybelum, and with D. vinitor as redefined by CADLE 2012.

Distribution: map in CADLE 2012: 206.

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018).

Similar species: D. crybelum, D. vinitor. 
  • Cadle, John E. 2012. Cryptic Species Within the Dendrophidion vinitor Complex In Middle America (Serpentes: Colubridae). Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 160 (4): 183-240. - get paper here
  • Harrington, Sean M; Jordyn M de Haan, Lindsey Shapiro, Sara Ruane 2018. Habits and characteristics of arboreal snakes worldwide: arboreality constrains body size but does not affect lineage diversification. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 125 (1): 61–71 - get paper here
  • Hilje B, Chaves G, Klank J, Timmerman F, Feltham J, Gillingwater S, Piraino T, Rojas E 2020. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Tirimbina Biological Reserve: a baseline for conservation, research and environmental education in a lowland tropical wet forest in Costa Rica. Check List 16(6): 1633-1655 - get paper here
  • McCranie, James R. 2015. A checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Honduras, with additions, comments on taxonomy, some recent taxonomic decisions, and areas of further studies needed. Zootaxa 3931 (3): 352–386 - get paper here
  • Morato, Sérgio Augusto Abrahão; Guilherme Nunes Ferreira; Michela Rossane Cavilha Scupino (eds.) 2018. Herpetofauna da Amazônia Central: Estudos na FLONA de Saracá-Taquera. Curitiba, Pr: STCP Engenharia de Projetos Ltda.; Porto Trombetas, Pa: MRN – Mineração Rio do Norte S.A., 2018.<br />210p. - get paper here
  • Ray, Julie M. and Patty Ruback 2015. Updated checklists of snakes for the provinces of Panamá and Panamá Oeste, Republic of Panama. Mesoamerican Herpetology 2 (2): 168-188 - get paper here
  • Solís, J. M., L. D. Wilson, and J. H. Townsend. 2014. An updated list of the amphibians and reptiles of Honduras, with comments on their nomenclature. Mesoamerican Herpetology 1: 123–144 - get paper here
  • Sunyer, Javier 2014. An updated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Nicaragua. Mesoamerican Herpetology 1 (2): 186–202. - 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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