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Epictia rioignis KOCH, MARTINS & SCHWEIGER, 2019

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Higher TaxaLeptotyphlopidae, Epictinae, Epictini, Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymEpictia rioignis KOCH, MARTINS & SCHWEIGER 2019 

Type locality: Corinto, presumably Nicaragua (12°29′N, 87°11′W, see Koch et al. for further details.  
TypesHolotype: NMW 15446:6, donated by Steindachner in 1907.
Paratypes (7): NMW 15446:1–5, NMW 15446:7–8 from the type locality, donated by Steindachner in 1907.
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Epictia rioignis sp. nov. can be distinguished from all congeners by the following combination of characters: (1) midbody scale rows 14; (2) midtail scale rows 10; (3) supralabials two, anterior one large and in broad contact with supraocular; (4) infralabials four; (5) subcaudals 14–19; (6) middorsal scale rows 250–267; (7) total number of precloacal vertebrae 231–248; (8) supraocular scales present; (9) frontal scale distinct, not fused with rostral; (10) striped dorsal color pattern with more or less triangular dark blotches on each scale; (11) upper half of eyes visible in dorsal view; (12) some caudals in posterior part of tail are fused in 50% of the specimens; (13) small white blotch in anterior part of dorsal surface of rostral present in about 83% of the specimens; (14) terminal spine and adjacent scales white.

Comparisons: The new species differs from Epictia albipuncta, Epictia striatula, Epictia unicolor and Epictia weyrauchi by having 10 midtail scale rows [vs. 12]. The number of 14 midbody scale rows distinguishes the species from E. undecimstriata [16]. By the presence of an unfused frontal and rostral scale it is differentiated from Epictia ater (including Epictia nasalis), Epictia bakewelli and Epictia schneideri. By having the anterior supralabial in broad contact with the supraocular the new species can be distinguished from E. albipuncta, Epictia amazonica, E. ater, Epictia australis, E. bakewelli, Epictia borapeliotes, Epictia clinorostris, Epictia collaris, Epictia columbi, Epictia diaplocia, Epictia fallax, Epictia goudotii, Epictia magnamaculata, Epictia martinezi, Epictia melanura, Epictia munoai, Epictia pauldwyeri, Epictia peruviana, Epictia phenops, Epictia resetari, E. schneideri, Epictia signata, Epictia subcrotilla, Epictia vellardi, Epictia vindumi, and Epictia wynni [vs. anterior supralabial and supraocular separated by supranasal-ocular contact]. The number of 250–267 middorsal scale rows distinguishes Epictia rioignis sp. nov. from E. albifrons [206–218 sensu Wallach, 2016; 242 sensu Natera Mumaw, Esqueda González & Castelaín Fernández, 2015], Epictia alfredschmidti [267–279], E. amazonica [208–245], Epictia antoniogarciai [195–208], E. collaris [155–166], E. diaplocia [205–233], Epictia hobartsmithi [191–208], E. melanura [395–396], E. munoai [184–226], E. pauldwyeri [202–226], E. peruviana [185– 199], E. subcrotilla [318–333], Epictia tenella [215–233 sensu Wallach, 2016 ], Epictia tricolor [276–310], E. unicolor [246], Epictia vanwallachi [188], Epictia venegasi [211–221], and Epictia vonmayi [196–205]. The number of 14–19 subcaudal scales differentiates this species from E. columbi [22–25], E. munoai [10–14], E. nasalis [21], and E. pauldwyeri [10–14]. By the presence of four infralabials [vs. three] Epictia rioignis sp. nov. differs from E. australis, E. borapeliotes, E. collaris, E. munoai, and E. wynni. The presence of a light blotch on the dorsal part of the rostral further differentiates the new species from E. columbi, Epictia rufidorsa, E. vanwallachi, and E. weyrauchi, and the presence of a whitish terminal spine distinguishes it from E. columbi, E. melanura, Epictia melanoterma, E. rufidorsa, and Epictia septemlineata. By lacking a tricolor pattern (reddish-brown, black, yellow) it differs from E. alfredschmidti, Epictia rubrolineata, Epictia teaguei, and E. tricolor. By lacking a preoral groove in the ventral rostral it differs from E. columbi. The presence of a distinct striped dorsal color pattern with more or less triangular dark blotches on each scale distinguishes the new species from E. amazonica [uniformly black coloration, without any trace of stripes], E. ater, and E. columbi [both species appear uniformly dark, pale outline of the scales is only visible upon closer examination]. From Epictia tesselata which is only known from Lima (Peru) and surroundings, the new species differs by having a very small light blotch on the rostral [light spot on the rostral and lower portion of the nasals] and a darker ventral coloration. It differs from E. ater and E. phenops by presenting unfused neural arches of the atlas [vs. fused]. The number of 231–248 trunk vertebrae distinguishes it from E. magnamaculata [199], E. munoai [207], E. phenops [213–246], E. tenella [190–204], and E. tricolor [282]. 
CommentSpecies group: E. rioignis is putatively assigned to the Epictia phenops species group based on external morphological characters and distribution. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is an agglutination of the Latin nomen ‘‘ignis’’ which means fire and the proper noun ‘‘Rio’’ as an acronym for the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. This name was chosen in honour to the Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro/UFRJ, Brazil’s oldest scientific institution with the largest South American collections of zoology, anthropology, geology and paleontology. Many of the precious collections pertaining to the zoology department (mostly invertebrates), anthropology, geology and paleontology were completely destroyed in the disastrous fire in its main building on September 2nd 2018. Due to historical neglection of this institution from the Brazilian government, added with substantial funding decrease in the past 5 years the museum did not receive sufficient money to fullfil basic safety standards—such as fire protection.  
  • Koch C, Martins A, Schweiger S. 2019. A century of waiting: description of a new Epictia Gray, 1845 (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae) based on specimens housed for more than 100 years in the collection of the Natural History Museum Vienna (NMW). PeerJ 7:e7411 - get paper here
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