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Micrurus lemniscatus (LINNAEUS, 1758)

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: South American Small-eyed Coralsnake, South American Coral Snake
E: Bolivian triad coral snake [frontifasciatus]
E: Guiana's ribbon coral snake [lemniscatus]
E: Brazilian ribbon coral snake [carvalhoi]
E: Western ribbon coral snake [helleri]
Portuguese: Boichumbeguaçu, Cobra-Corá, Cobra-Coral, Cobra-Coral-de-Bigode, Cobra-Coral-da-Guiana, Cobra-Coral-Vermelha, Coral, Coral-Verdadeira 
SynonymColuber lemniscatus LINNAEUS 1758: 224
Elaps lemniscatus — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 1217
Elaps lemniscatus — BOULENGER 1886: 438
Elaps lemniscatus — GARMAN 1887: 285
Elaps heterochilus BOULENGER 1896
Elaps gravenhorstii BOULENGER 1896
Micrurus lemniscatus — BEEBE 1919: 216
Micrurus lemniscatus — BEEBE 1946: 46
Micrurus lemniscatus lemniscatus — BURGER 1955: 40
Micrurus lemniscatus lemniscatus — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 212
Micrurus lemniscatus lemniscatus — GASC & RODRIGUES 1980
Micrurus lemniscatus lemniscatus — WELCH 1994: 85
Micrurus lemniscatus lemniscatus — STARACE 1998: 358
Micrurus lemniscatus — KORNACKER 1999: 155
Micrurus lemniscatus lemniscatus — BARRIO-AMOROS et al. 2003
Micrurus lemniscatus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 448
Micrurus lemniscatus — PIRES et al. 2021 
DistributionN Bolivia, Brazil (Amazonas, Goias, Rio Grande do Sul [HR 32: 60], Acre, Rio de Janeiro, Piaui), Colombia, E Ecuador,
French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, E Peru, Argentina (HR 27: 34), Paraguay (fide Paul Smith, pers. comm., 27 Apr 2014), Venezuela

lemniscatus: Brazil (Amapa, Para), N Guianas

Type locality: “Asia” (fide LINNAEUS 1758; in error); Schmidt and Walker (1943) restricted the type locality to Belem. Para, Brazil; however, Roze (1967) thought that the specimen most likely came from the northern Guianas. Hence, Pires et al. 2021 suggested to restrict the type locality of M. lemniscatus to Paramaribo (Suriname).  
TypesSyntypes: NRM (also given as RMS); Lectotype: NRS L-93, paralectotypes: NRS L-94, NRM 95 (NRS = NRM), designated by Roze, 1989, see also Pires et al. 2021 who suggested to add ZISP 1258, ZISP 1261, ZISP 1262, ZISP 1263, and ZISP 1264 as further paralectotypes).
Holotype: NMW = NHMW 18298 [frontifasciatus]
Holotype: USNM 76341, male, ZMB 2727 seems to be the iconotype from Seba 1734; paratypes: USNM, AMNH, FMNH, MCZ, MNRJ, NMW, CAS, SMF [carvalhoi] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: (1) Dorsal pattern of white, red, and black triads; (2) hemipenis and tail relatively short; (3) two supralabials entering orbit; (4) mental usually separated from chinshields by medial contact of first pair of infralabials; (5) anal scale usually divided; (6) first triad complete; (7) 2-6 red vertebrals separating first triad from parietals; (8) dorsal surface of head black with white band crossing snout; margins of scales within white band not edged in black; parietals partly red; (9) extent of black pigment in red and white rings variable; (10) white rings longest ventrally, never constricted or broken ventrally by black rings; (11) mental and some anterior infralabials entirely black (i.e., band across snout broken by entirely black infralabials) or red; (12) 9-15 triads on the body and 1-1.67 triads on the tail in Bolivian specimens (7-17 and 0.67-2 across the species range, Campbell and Lamar, 1989); (13) white rings always smaller than exterior black rings in Bolivian specimens and elsewhere (Campbell and Lamar, 1989; Harvey et al. 2003).

Diagnosis (updated). Micrurus lemniscatus can be distinguished from all other triadal species of Micrurus by the following combination of morphological characters: black snout (rostral, internasals, anterior border of prefrontals and nasals, and 1–2 supralabials); white preocular transverse band covers most of prefrontals, anterior border of supraoculars, posterior nasals, preoculars, and 2–3 supralabials; black cephalic cap includes frontal, supraoculars, postoculars, anterior 1⁄3 of parietals, temporals, and 2–3 supralabials; remainder of head red, with or without black-tipped scales; gulars red with mental and some or most of infralabials black; 1st triad separated from parietals by 1–6 scales; triadal pattern: middle black ring longer or same length as outer ones, white rings usually shorter than outer black rings (11⁄2–2 dorsal scales in length), red rings shorter than entire triad or even shorter than middle black ring; red and white rings usually black-tipped, but might be immaculate on first 1⁄4 of body; and 7–16 body triads and 1⁄3–2 tail triads. Ventral scales 230–250 in males, and 245–270 in females. Subcaudals 26–48 in males, and 24–48 in females (Fig. 43A, Pires et al. 2021: 64).

Comparison with sympatric species. Micrurus lemniscatus occurs sympatrically with three species of Leptomicrurus, and 11 species of monadal, one species of bicolored, and nine triadal species of Micrurus. It differs from Leptomicrurus by the contact of the 1st infralabials behind the mental scale (vs. the 1st infralabials are separated by an extended mental that contacts the chin shields), a shorter and stouter body (vs. a long and slender body with more ventrals than in any other species of Micrurus), and the presence of a triadal pattern (vs. the absence of complete rings on the body). Micrurus lenniscatus differs from all of the monadal and bicolored species in its genus by the presence of a triadal color pattern. It differs from M. carvalhoi by a higher mean number of ventrals (245.8 vs. 242.6) and subcaudals (36.4 vs. 30.8), a lower number of body triads (10.8 vs. 12.6), and a shorter cephalic cap (vs. a long cephalic cap); from M. diutius by a higher mean number of ventrals (245.8 vs. 227.6), a lower number of vertebral scales between the parietals and the 1st triad (6–8 vs. 2–4), and the presence of shorter white rings (1.5–2 vs. 2.5–4 dorsal scales in length); from M. filiformis by a lower number of ventrals (221–277 vs. 259– 335), and a lower number of triads (7–16 vs. 12–23); and from M. hemprichii, M. isozonus, M. spixii, M. obscurus, M. nattereri, and M. surinamensis by the presence of a white preocular transverse band (vs. the absence of a white preocular transverse band) (Figs. 43, 44, Pires et al. 2021: 64).

Variation. The head is red with irregular black markings, black-tipped scales, or both. A black cephalic cap generally reaches the anterior 1⁄3 (75.5%) or 1⁄2 of the parietals (12.8%), but rarely reaches 2⁄3 (9.8%) or the entire parietals (1.5%). A varying degree of irregular black markings are present on the chin, including on the mental and at least the first four infralabials. The markings on the chin can include the mental and the first 3–4 infralabials (64.8%) with the inclusion of the 1st pair of gulars as in a semicircle (17%), and can be immaculate (4.2%), with irregular black markings (6.5%), with irregular lateral markings (5%), or reduced to the mental (2.5%) (Fig. 44). In males (N = 298), the ventrals = 221–268, the subcaudals = 26–48, and the body triads = 7–16; the HL = 7.9–47.3 mm, the SVL = 197–1,280 mm, and the TL = 14.3–126.8 mm. In females (N = 212), the ventrals = 230–277, the subcaudals = 24–48, and the body triads = 7–14; the HL = 7.3–30.9 mm, the SVL = 200–1,220 mm, and the TL 10.3–119.7 mm. The 1st triad is separated from the parietals by 1–6 vertebral scales: 3 (43.5%), 4 (29.7%), 2 (10.5%), 5 (9.9%), 1 (2.5%), and 6 (2.5%). The black middle triad rings are longer that the outer black rings (78.7%), or are semi-equal in length (21.3%). The white rings vary in length (0.5–4.5 dorsal scales), with the majority (83.7%) consisting of 11⁄2 (33.1%), 2 (37.6), and 21⁄2 (13%) scales. The tail triads are 1–2, with a predominance of the 12⁄3 pattern (12⁄3 = 87.7%; 11⁄3= 9.6%; 2 = 1.8%; and 1 = 0.9%). The degree of black pigmentation on the red rings is variable, and can be irregular (65%), with all of the scales tipped with black (19%), or immaculate (16%). The white rings can be irregularly marked with black (17%), immaculate (40%), or the scales might contain fine black tipping (43%) (Fig. 44, Pires et al. 2021: 64). 
CommentSynonymy after PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970 who list Micrurus lemniscatus multicinctus AMARAL 1944 as synonym of Micrurus frontalis altirostris. Campbell & Lamar 2004 list M. (l.) frontifasciatus as a synonym of Micrurus lemniscatus (without reference or justification). For a discussion of nomenclatural and historical issues, see Pires et al. 2021 who also synonymized M. l. helleri with M. lemniscatus.


Subspecies: all former subspecies of M. lemniscatus have either been synonymized or elevated to full species status. 
EtymologyIn Latin lemniscatus means adorned with ribbons, referring to the red, black, and white bands.
M. l. carvalhoi was named after the Brazilian herpetologist, Antenor Leitäo de Carvalho, "whose friendly cooperation is weIl known and appreciated within and outside Brazil," as is stated in the original description. 
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