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Micrurus helleri (SCHMIDT & SCHMIDT, 1925)

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Western ribbon coral snake 
SynonymMicrurus helleri SCHMIDT & SCHMIDT 1925: 129
Micrurus lemniscatus helleri — ROZE 1967: 35
Micrurus lemniscatus helleri — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 212
Micrurus lemniscatus helleri — DUELLMAN 1978: 261
Micrurus lemniscatus helleri — FUGLER & WALLS 1978
Micrurus lemniscatus helleri — WELCH 1994: 85
Micrurus lemniscatus helleri — BARRIO-AMOROS et al. 2003
Micrurus lemniscatus lemniscatus — BARRIO-AMOROS et al. 2003
Micrurus lemniscatus helleri — WHITHWORTH & BEIRNE 2011
Micrurus helleri — HURTADO-GÓMEZ et al. 2021 
DistributionAndean foothills of N Brazil, S Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia

Type locality: "Pozuzo, Huanuco, Peru".  
Reproductionoviparous. 
TypesHolotype: FMNH 5577, male 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Allied to Micrurus ancoralis (Jan), from which it is distinguished by the absence of the anchor-shaped nuchal mark; fewer triads of rings; and by having the scales of the light interspaces yellow or red edged with black, instead of black edged with yellow or red (Schmidt & Schmidt 1925).

Description of type. Habitus slender; tail .08 the total length; greatest diameter of body 8 mm.; eye half as long as its distance from the mouth. Rostral twice as broad as deep; posterior nasal in contact with the preocular; frontal twice as broad as the supraocular, once and a half as long as broad, as long as its distance from the end of the snout, shorter than the parietals; latter as long as their distance from the ros tral; internasals two-thirds as long as the prefrontals; one pre- and two post oculars; temporals 1-1, about equal in size; seven upper labials, the third larger than the fourth, third and fourth entering the eye; anterior chin-shields in contact with the symphysial; seven lower lab ials, three in contact with the anterior chin-shields, which are shorter than the posterior. Dorsal scales 15-15-15. Ventral plates 261. Anal divided. Sub caudals 35. Total length 648 mm., tail 52 mm (Schmidt & Schmidt 1925).

Coloration (in alcohol): Body with black annuli arranged in triads with white interspaces, the triads separated by wide, red interspaces. The median black annulus is six scale-lengths wide on the back, and covers five ventral plates; the white interspaces are two scale-lengths wide on the back and cover three ventral plates; the dorsal scales of the white interspaces are white edged with black; the outer black annuli are four scale-lengths wide on the back and cover two ventral plates; the red interspaces separating the triads are five scale-lengths wide on the back and cover eight ventral plates. There are eleven triads on the body and one on the tail. The posterior part of the head, the neck and the throat are red. The postoculars, the supraoculars, the frontal and the anterior half of the parietals are black; the prefrontals, the posterior nasals, the pre oculars and the third, fourth and fifth upper labials are yellow. The internasals, the anterior nasals, the rostral, the symphysial and the first, second, and third lower labials are black (Schmidt & Schmidt 1925).

Comparisons: A specimen of Micrurus ancoralis, USNM 12267, "? Guayaquil", agrees with the type of that species in having an anchor shaped nuchal mark (a modified triad). It has fifteen triads of black rings on the body and one on the tail. Its ventrals are 250 and sub caudals 32. Except for the separation of the first labials by the mental, the specimen here described might have been identified as Micrurus lemniscatus. It differs from lemniscatus in having the internasals much shorter than the prefrontals and in details of color pattern, besides the mental character (Schmidt & Schmidt 1925). 
CommentSynonymy: Pires et al. 2021 synonymized M. l. helleri with M. lemniscatus while HURTADO-GÓMEZ et al. 2021 show that it is a separate clade and thus consider it as valid species.

Venomous!

Similar species: 
EtymologyM. l. helleri was named after Edmund Heller, collector of the type specimen and participant in the Marshall Field Expedition to Peru in 1922 to 1923. 
References
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