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Dipsas palmeri (BOULENGER, 1912)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Palmer’s Snail-Eater
S: Caracolera de Palmer
Striped Snail-eater (latifasciata) 
SynonymLeptognathus palmeri BOULENGER 1912: 422
Leptognathus latifasciatus BOULENGER 1913: 72
Sibynomorphus latifasciatus — DUNN 1923: 187
Sibynomorphus palmeri — AMARAL 1930:199
Dipsas palmeri — PARKER 1934: 271
Dipsas latifasciata — PETERS 1960: 100
Dipsas latifasciata — CADLE 2005
Dipsas peruana — HARVEY & EMBERT 2008 (part.)
Dipsas palmeri — ARTEAGA et al. 2018 
DistributionEcuador, Peru (Eastern slopes of the Andes), elevation 1211 - 2282 m

Type locality: El Topo, province of Tungurahua, Ecuador.

latifasciata: N Peru, S Ecuador; Type locality: Upper Marañon, Eastern Peru [Cajamarca, Peru]  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.1.20.77 (status uncertain fide P. Campbell, pers. comm., March 2019)
Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.2077 [latifasciatus] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Dipsas palmeri differs from all described species of Dipsas based on
the following combination of characters: (1) 15/15/15 smooth dorsals with enlarged vertebral row; (2) one loreal and one preocular in contact with orbit; (3) 8–10 supralabials with (usually) 4th to 6th contacting orbit; (4) one pair of infralabials in contact behind symphysial; (5) 172–202 ventrals in males, 181–200 in females; (6) 91–118 divided subcaudals in males, 86–102 in females; (7) dorsal and ventral ground color light brown with various degrees of fine black speckling and with 32–41 brown to blackish, white-edged circular blotches that are longer than interspaces in the first half of the body, but shorter in the second half (Figs 1r, s); adult head gray with different degrees of whitish edging on the labial scales, and a thin (1–2 scales long) white to light grayish brown irregular parietal collar; dorsal blotches incomplete ventrally, extending marginally onto ventrals but not fusing midventrally; (8) 215–907 mm SVL in males, 642–1187 mm in females; (9) 78–390 mm TL in males, 246–298 mm in females.

Comparisons. Dipsas palmeri is compared to species previously subsumed under D. peruana: D. latifrontalis, D. klebbai (Fig. 1l, m), and D. peruana. From D. latifrontalis (Fig. 1n), it differs in having the first 19–35 dorsal blotches edged with white or cream, vs. the first 9–10 in D. latifrontalis. The only known adult of D. latifrontalis photographed in life has bronze interspaces (Fig. 1n), a coloration not seen in any adult of D. palmeri. From D. klebbai, it differs in having shorter blotches (longest blotch up to 3–7 vertebral scales long) that are circular (instead of oblong) and that are only longer than the interspaces on the first half of the body. From D. peruana, it differs in having dorsal blotches that are shorter than interspaces on posterior half of the body, and in lacking melanized interspaces in adult individuals. 
CommentSynonymy: Fernandes et al. (2002) synonymized D. latifasciata with D. polylepis. Arteaga et al. 2018 resurrected D. palmeri and moved Dipsas latifasciata from the synonymy of D. peruana to the synonymy of D. palmeri.

Conservation status. An estimated 31 out of the 42 known localities of occur- rence for Dipsas palmeri are located within the limits or the buffer area of the following protected areas: Bosque Protector del Alto Nangaritza, Parque Nacional Llanganates, Parque Nacional Podocarpus and Parque Nacional Sangay. Furthermore, the presence of the species in degraded environments suggests a degree of tolerance for habitat mod- ification. For these reasons, and because it does not meet the criteria for qualifying in a threatened category, we here list it as Least Concern following IUCN guidelines.

Similar species: most similar in coloration and lepidosis to D. latifrontalis 
  • Amaral,A. do 1930. Estudos sobre ophidios neotropicos XVIII. Lista remissiva dos ophidios da região neotropica. Mem. Inst. Butantan 4: 126-271 [1929] - get paper here
  • Arteaga A, Salazar-Valenzuela D, Mebert K, Peñafiel N, Aguiar G, Sánchez-Nivicela JC, Pyron RA, Colston TJ, Cisneros-Heredia DF, Yánez-Muñoz MH, Venegas PJ, Guayasamin JM, Torres-Carvajal O 2018. Systematics of South American snail-eating snakes (Serpentes, Dipsadini), with the description of five new species from Ecuador and Peru. ZooKeys 766: 79-147 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, George A. 1912. Descriptions of new reptiles from the Andes of South America, preserved in the British Museum. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (8) 10: 420-424 - get paper here
  • Boulenger,G. A. 1913. Description of a new snake discovered by Mr. A. E. Pratt in eastern Peru. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (8) 12: 72 - get paper here
  • Dunn, E. R. 1923. Some snakes from North Western Peru. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 36: 185-188 - get paper here
  • Harvey, Michael B. and Dirk Embert 2008. Review of Bolivian Dipsas (Serpentes: Colubridae), with Comments on Other South American Species. Herpetological Monographs 22 (1): 54-105 - get paper here
  • Parker, H.W. 1934. Reptiles and amphibians from southern Ecuador. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (10) 14: 264-273 - get paper here
  • Peters , J. A. 1960. The snakes of the subfamily Dipsadinae. Misc. Publ. Mus. Zool., Univ. Michigan (114): 224 pp. - get paper here
  • 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
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