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Leptophis coeruleodorsus OLIVER, 1942

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Green-and-yellow Parrot Snake, Oliver’s parrot snake
E: Tobagan Parrot Snake [haileyi] 
SynonymLeptophis coeruleodorsus OLIVER 1942: 4
Ahaetulla liocercus — REINHARDT & LÜTKEN 1862: 10
Dendrophis liocercus — COURT 1884: 382
Leptophis liocercus — MOLE & URICH 1894a: 85
Leptophis ahaetulla ortoni — BEEBE 1946: 34
Leptophis coeruleodorsus — BEEBE 1946: 34
Thalerophis richardi coeruleodorsus — OLIVER 1948: 228
Leptophis ahaetulla coeruleodorsus — ICZN 1958: 270
Leptophis ahaetulla coeruleodorsus — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970
Leptophis ahaetulla coeruleodorsus — MERTENS 1972
Leptophis ahaetulla coeruleodorsus — MERTENS 1973
Leptophis ahaetulla — EMSLEY 1977: 241
Leptophis ahaetulla coeruleodorsus — KORNACKER 1997
Leptophis ahaetulla coeruleodorsus — GORZULA & SEÑARIS 1999
Leptophis ahaetulla coeruleodorsus — BOOS 2001
Leptophis coeruleodorsus — MURPHY et al. 2013
Leptophis haileyi MURPHY, CHARLES, LEHTINEN & KOELLER 2013
Leptophis coeruleodorsus — ALBUQUERQUE et al. 2022 
DistributionVenezuela, Tobago, Trinidad, Isla de Margarita ?

Type locality: Trinidad, British West Indies. Here we restrict the type locality to Mt. St. Benedict, Tunapuna, Trinidad (~10°39’N 61°23’W). There are three well documented specimens collected from this location.

haileyi: Tobago; Type locality: Tobago near Roxborough at 11° 15′ 05.8′′N, 60° 34′ 04.7′′W.  
TypesHolotype: AMNH 9022 (also given as AMNH 209022).
Holotype: CAS 245313, male; collected by P.G. Frank, P.A. Frank, and R. Lawson in 2006 [haileyi] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Leptophis coeruleodorsus can be distinguished from its congeners by the following unique combination of character states: (1) head scales not edged with black and with no black spots; (2) adult color pattern with no dark dorsal bands; (3) dorsum with two dorsolateral stripes separated from each other by middorsal area about three to nine scale rows wide, at least anteriorly; (4) dorsals keeled, except first dorsal row on each side; keels of dorsals slightly black; (5) no loreal scale; (6) ventrals 144–168 in males, 157–178 in females; (7) subcaudals 141–166 in males, 125–174 in females; (8) dorsal scales of tail with no keels; (9) maxillary teeth 22–24; (10) TL/SvL: 95% CI = 0.632–0.663 mm (n = 18); (11) small spines at first basal row of hemipenial body; (12) asulcate side of hemipenis similar to sulcate side.
Comparisons. Leptophis coeruleodorsus differs from all members of the L. ahaetulla complex by dorsal color pattern with two dorsolateral stripes at rows 2–4 or 2–5 (occasionally 2–3 or 3–5) (Fig. 12A–B) separated from each other by middorsal area about three to nine scale rows wide, at least anteriorly (vs. dorsolateral stripes usually absent; if present, separated from each other by vertebral stripe one to one and half scale wide, at least anteriorly). Further, L. coeruleodorsus differs from sympatric L. occidentalis by having dorsal coloration reduced posteriorly, becoming Pale Cinnamon (55) (Fig. 12C) to bronze in preservative (vs. uniform dorsal coloration; Fig. 29A); pre-ocular black stripe always absent or reduced to black margin on second and third supralabials (vs. preocular black stripe present and always reduced to upper margin on second, third and fourth supralabials); and the lowest number of ventrals in males—95% CI = 158.6–161 and females—162.6–165.2 (vs. 164.9–166.9 and 167–169.9, respectively) (Table 2). (Albuquerque et al. 2022).

Variation and sexual dimorphism. Largest male (AMNH 110472) SvL 907 mm, TL 615+ mm and largest female (USNM 15235) SvL 935 mm, TL 588 mm; ventrals 144–168 in males (160 ± 3.9, n = 38), 157–178 in females (164.1 ± 4.7, n = 40); subcaudals 141–166 in males (156.4 ± 9.2, n = 17), 125–174 in females (157.5 ± 10.1, n = 20); supralabials 7–9 (8.3 ± 0.5, n = 140), with fourth–fifth (64.4%, n = 85), fifth–sixth (34.1%, n = 45), or, rarely, third–fourth (1.5%, n = 2) touching orbit; infralabials 9–11 (10.2 ± 0.5, n = 138), with first 5 (73.6%, n = 103) and first 6 (26.4%, n = 37) contacting first chin shields; preoculars 1–2 (1.1 ± 0.3, n = 140); postoculars 2 (n = 69) and a single specimen with 1 on both sides; anterior temporal 1 (n = 70); posterior temporal 1–3 (1.9 ± 0.1, n = 138); keels more developed in adult males than females and juveniles; width of dorsolateral stripes varies from four to five scales wide, at least anteriorly.
Only three banded specimens were examined: AMNH 101309 and AMNH 64478, two males with 392 and 361 mm in total length, respectively, and MCZ 126381, a female with 382 mm in total length, which have bands on anterior and middle portion of the body. Females have more ventrals than males (F1,78 = 17.3932; P < 0.01). No significant difference in subcaudal counts between males and females was observed (F1,37 = 0.1287; P = 0.7223). The TL/SvL showed no significant difference between females and males (F1,16 = 2.6178; P = 0.1221). (Albuquerque et al. 2022).

Coloration in life. Dorsum of the head Light Grass Green (109); dorsal scales row I (occasionally I–II) in anterior portion of the body (before body scale reduction from 15 to 11) white or Smoky White (261); anterior portion of the body of adults with two Spectrum Yellow (79) or Sulphur Yellow (80) lateral stripes on dorsal scale rows II–III, II–Iv, II–v or III–v on each side; these stripes are separated by Light Grass Green (109) middorsal area 3–9 scale rows wide, depending on the region of anterior portion of the body examined and the width of the dorsolateral bands; dorsal coloration reduces posteriorly, becoming Pale Cinnamon (55); keels of dorsal scales slightly black, being more pronounced on paravertebral rows; preocular Jet Black (300) stripe always reduced to upper margin on second, third and fourth supralabials; postocular Jet Black (300) stripe broad covering lower edge of upper postocular, all of lower postocular, two-thirds of anterior temporal, all or nearly all of lower posterior temporal, and upper edge of last three supralabial scales, extending further over two up to eight scales onto nuchal region; supralabials, infralabials, chin, throat and venter white or dirty white. Roze (1966: 173) and Boos (2001: 125) briefly described the color pattern of Leptophis a. coeruleodorsus, whereas Murphy (1997, fig. 136) and Ugueto & Rivas (2010: fig. 102) not only described but also illustrated this color pattern (as L. a. coeruleodorsus). Campbell & Lamar (2004, fig. 1172) illustrated a specimen from villavicencio, Meta, Colombia. (Albuquerque et al. 2022).

Diagnosis. The absence of a loreal distinguishes L. coeruleodorsusus from L. depressirostris, L. diplotropis, and L. mexicanus. A broad, green mid-dorsal stripe with copper to bronze dorsolateral stripes that fade posteriorly and a head that lacks scales outlined in black will separate if from L. ahaetulla (and all its subspecies), L. cupreus, L. modestus L. nebulosus, L. riveti, L. stimsoni. The color pattern of L. haileyi sp nov. in life is unknown; but it has nine upper labials with the last upper labial the longest and in contact with the primary temporal scale [Murphy et al. 2013].

Diagnosis (haileyi). The only Tobago Leptophis to have a subacuminate snout in profile; the rostral barely visible from above; primary temporal in contact with three or four upper labials, including the last; prefrontal long (1.7 x the length of the internasal). Tobago L. coeruleodorsus prefrontal 1.3–1.5x the length of the internasal. All L. coeruleodorsus examined have two upper labials contacting primary temporal with last upper labial excluded from contact with primary temporal. In L. haileyi sp. nov., the last upper labial makes narrow contact with the primary temporal on both sides. L. haileyi sp. nov. has longitudinal dorsolateral stripes on the anterior body scale rows 2–4; nine upper labials, 2–3–4 at the loreal-prefrontal shield, 5–6 in the orbit; 5/4 lower labials at the first pair of chin shields, L. coeruleodorsus on Tobago has eight upper labials with 2–3 contacting the loreal-prefrontal shield, and 4+5 in the orbit. This species can also be distinguished from L. coeruleodorsus by its domed snout (prefrontal – internasal area), its relatively high ventral count (173), and proportionally shorter tail. The male holotype has a tail: SVL ratio (0.64) and a subcaudal count (166) that falls within the range of L. coeruleodorsus females. (from Murphy et al. 2013). 
CommentNot listed by WALLACH et al. 2014:372 but mentioned under L. ahaetulla as valid fide Navarrete et al. 2009: 61.

Distribution: Literature reports of L. coeruleodorsus on the Isla de Margarita need verification. Pérez-Santos (1988) reported this species from western Colombia, probably based upon mis-identified L. a. occidentalis.

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

L. haileyi was named in honor of Adrian Hailey, the University of the West Indies for his contributions to the herpetology of Trinidad and Tobago. 
  • ALBUQUERQUE, NELSON RUFINO DE; & DANIEL S. FERNANDES 2022. Taxonomic revision of the parrot snake Leptophis ahaetulla (Serpentes, Colubridae) Zootaxa 5153 (1): 001–069 - get paper here
  • Auguste, Renoir J. 2019. Herpetofaunal checklist for six pilot protected areas in Trinidad and Tobago. Herpetology Notes 12: 577-585 - get paper here
  • Beebe, William 1946. Field notes on the snakes of Kartabo, British Guiana, and Caripito, Venezuela. Zoologica 31: 11-52 - get paper here
  • Boos, H.E.A. 2001. The snakes of Trinidad and Tobago. Texas A&M University Press, 270 pp.
  • Gorzula, Stefan & Senaris, J. Celsa 1999. In: Contribution to the herpetofauna of the Venezuelan Guayana. I: a data base. Scientia Guaianae, Caracas, No. 8 [1998], 269+ pp.; ISBN 980-6020-48-0
  • 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
  • Hedges SB, Powell R, Henderson RW, Hanson S, and Murphy JC 2019. Definition of the Caribbean Islands biogeographic region, with checklist and recommendations for standardized common names of amphibians and reptiles. Caribbean Herpetology 67: 1–53
  • Kornacker, Paul M.;Dederichs, Ursula 1997. Herpetologische Eindrücke einer Venezuelareise. Elaphe 5 (3): 87-96
  • Mertens, R. 1972. Herpetofauna tobagana. Stuttgarter Beitr. zur Naturkunde nr. 252 22 pp. - get paper here
  • Mertens, R. 1973. Bemerkenswerte Schlanknattern der neotropischen Gattung Leptophis. Stud. Neotrop. Fauna 8: 141-154. - get paper here
  • MURPHY, JOHN C.; STEVLAND P. CHARLES, RICHARD M. LEHTINEN & KRISTA L. KOELLER 2013. A molecular and morphological characterization of Oliver’s parrot snake, Leptophis coeruleodorsus (Squamata: Serpentes: Colubridae) with the description of a new species from Tobago. Zootaxa 3718 (6): 561–574 - get paper here
  • Natera-Mumaw, Marco; Luis Felipe Esqueda-González & Manuel Castelaín-Fernández 2015. Atlas Serpientes de Venezuela. Santiago de Chile, Dimacofi Negocios Avanzados S.A., 456 pp. - get paper here
  • Navarrete, L.F.; López-Johnston, J.C. & Dávila Blanco, A. 2009. Guia de las Serpientes de Venezuela [2da Edición]. Zoocriadero Ecopets, Bioreptilia, y Grupo Río Verde, Caracas, 102 pp.
  • Oliver, J. A. 1942. A check list of the snakes of the genus Leptophis, with descriptions of new forms. Occ. Pap. Mus. Zool., Univ. Michigan (No. 462): 19 pp. - get paper here
  • Oliver, J. A. 1948. The relationships and zoogeography of the genus Thalerophis Oliver. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 92: 157-280. - get paper here
  • Señaris, J. Celsa; María Matilde Aristeguieta Padrón, Haidy Rojas Gil y Fernando J. M. Rojas-Runjaic 2018. Guía ilustrada de los anfibios y reptiles del valle de Caracas, Venezuela. Ediciones IVIC, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas (IVIC). Caracas, Venezuela. 348 pp.
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