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Micrurus obscurus (JAN, 1872)

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Black-neck Amazonian coral snake, Bolivian Coral Snake 
SynonymElaps corallinus var obscura JAN & SORDELLI 1872: plate VI
Elaps heterozonus PETERS 1881
Elaps heterozonus BOULENGER 1896
Elaps princeps BOULENGER 1905: 456
Micrurus spixii obscura — SCHMIDT & WALKER 1943: 294
Micrurus spixii princeps — SCHMIDT 1953: 175
Micrurus spixii obscurus — SCHMIDT 1955
Micrurus spixii princeps — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 218
Micrurus spixii obscurus — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 218
Micrurus spixii obscurus — DUELLMAN 1978: 261
Micrurus spixii obscurus — WELCH 1994: 89
Micrurus spixii princeps — WELCH 1994: 89
Micrurus obscurus — HARVEY et al. 2003
Micrurus spixii obscurus — CAMPBELL & LAMAR 2004: 228
Micrurus spixii princeps — CAMPBELL & LAMAR 2004: 228
Micrurus obscurus — RIVAS et al. 2012
Micrurus obscurus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 451
Micrurus obscurus — NOGUEIRA et al. 2019 
DistributionS/E Colombia, NW Brazil (Upper Amazon region), N Bolivia, E Ecuador, E Peru;

Type locality: “Lima” (in error); designated to “Iquitos, Peru” by SCHMIDT 1953: 175.

princeps: NW/C Bolivia; Type locality: "Province Sara, Department Santa Cruzde la Sierra, Bolivia"  
Reproductionoviparous. 
TypesHolotype: lost, formerly MSNM, destroyed in World War II.
Lectotype: BMNH 1946.1.20.44, a male, designated by Roze, 1989:14 [princeps] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: (1) Dorsal pattern of yellow, 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 usually incomplete (if complete, the first black ring is very short and edges the parietals; a "remnant" of this ring is often evident as a row of black scales on the side of the neck): two black rings on neck, the first strongly angled anteriorly along midline; (7) dorsal surface of snout red, parietal region yellow; black band crossing frontal and supraoculars to suprala bials; (8) apices of yellow rings with more black pigment than apices of scales in red rings; (9) yellow rings longest ventrally, some black rings greatly con stricted or interrupted ventrally; (10) mental and some anterior infralabials edged in black, remaining scales of chin mostly immaculate; (11) parietals immaculate yellow or with black blotching; scales of snout moderately blotched; (12) prefrontal contacting the supralabials in about 60% of the specimens; (13) 6-9 body triads (as few as 4 in specimens outside Bolivia, Roze, 1996), 0.67—1 triads on tail; (14) yellow rings longer or only slightly shorter than exterior black rings [HARVEY et al. 2003].

Nascimento et al. 2019 distinguished M. spixii from M. obscurus (in parenthesis) by the combination of the following characters: black cephalic cap (vs. cephalic cap absent, with red parietal region), hemipenial body with spines dispersed on the asulcate surface (vs. spines arranged in rows on the asulcate surface), capitate condition of hemipenis (vs. organ partially-capitate), narrow parietal bone with posterior angular borders (vs. enlarged parietal bone with elliptical posterior border), and relatively long venom inoculating fangs (vs. relatively short venom inoculating fangs).

Comparisons. Micrurus obscurus differs from M. spixii by having tricolor head with dark interorbital bar, white anterior ring before black ring of an incomplete triad, hemipenis non-capitate, and fangs proportionally short with respect to maxillary (vs. well-defined black cephalic cap connected to first black ring, hemipenis capitate, and venom fangs proportionally long with respect to maxillary); differs from M. diana by having absence of cephalic cap, first body triad incomplete, body triads 3–10, last triad incomplete, ventral 174–228 (vs. cephalic cap connected to first black body ring, first body triad complete, body triads 9–15, ventrals 214–116); differs from M. filiformis by having white snout with black-edged scales, relatively robust body, ventrals 197–228 and less than 11 complete body triads (vs. black snout interrupted by white transverse band, body thin, ventrals 239–329, and 10–22 complete body triads); differs from complex M. lemniscatus complex by having white snout with black-edged scales, infralabias without characteristic spots and ventrals 197–228 (vs. black snout, followed by white and black band, and inverted U-shaped spot covering infralabials; ventrals 225–263 in M. lemniscatus helleri; ventrals 225–277 in M. l. lemniscatus); differs from M. hemprichii ortoni by having divided cloacal scale and red rings composing triads (vs. entire cloacal scale and yellow rings composing triads); differs from M. nattereri and M. surinamensis by having white snout with black- bordered scales, anterior ring narrow and white before first black ring, first body triad incomplete, eyes and nostrils positioned laterally, and hemipenis short without papillate or spinulate calyces (vs. red snout with black posterior border, narrow anterior and posterior black ring as well as white rings, first body triad complete, eyes and nostrils ori- ented toward the top of head, and hemipenis short, moderately elongate with calyculated lobes and calcified spines) [Nascimento et al. 2019]. 
CommentSubspecies: M. obscurus is considered as a subspecies of M. lemniscatus by some authors.

Venomous!

Synonymy after HARVEY et al. 2003.

Distribution: TORRES-CARVAJAL et al. 2019 do not list M. obscurus for Ecuador but rather M. spixii, dependent on which authority is adopted. 
EtymologyLatin obscurus means dark and obscure and probably alludes to the darkened head and the long black nuchal band. When describing this subspecies Jan used a darkened, large adult specimen that apparently gave the impression of an "obscurus" snake. 
References
  • Campbell, J.A. & Lamar, W.W. 1989. The Venomous Reptiles of Latin America. Comstock Publishing/Cornell University Press, Ithaca
  • CATENAZZI, A., LEHR, E. & VON MAY, R. 2013. The amphibians and reptiles of Manu National Park and its buffer zone, Amazon basin and eastern slopes of the Andes, Peru. Biota Neotrop. 13(4): 269-283
  • Duellman, W. E. 1978. The biology of an equatorial herpetofauna in Amazonian Ecuador. Misc. Publ. Univ. Kans. Mus. Nat. Hist. 65: 1-352 - get paper here
  • Duellman, W. E. 2005. Cusco Amazónico: The Lives of Amphibians and Reptiles in an Amazonian Rainforest. Comstock Pub Assoc.
  • Harvey M. B., J. Aparicio E, and L. Gonzalez A. 2003. Revision of the venomous snakes of Bolivia: Part 1. The coralsnakes (Elapidae: Micrurus). Annals of the Carnegie Museum 72: 1-52
  • Jan, Giorgia & Sordelli, M.F. 1872. Iconographie Générale des Ophidiens. 41. livr. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris, 6 plates - get paper here
  • NASCIMENTO, LYWOUTY R. S.; NELSON J. JR. SILVA, DARLAN T. FEITOSA, ANA L. C. PRUDENTE 2019. Taxonomy of the Micrurus spixii species complex (Serpentes, Elapidae). Zootaxa 4668 (3): 370–392 - 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
  • Nogueira, Cristiano C.; Antonio J.S. Argôlo, Vanesa Arzamendia, Josué A. Azevedo,<br />Fausto E. Barbo, Renato S. Bérnils, Bruna E. Bolochio, Marcio Borges-Martins,<br />Marcela Brasil-Godinho, Henrique Braz0, Marcus A. Buononato, Diego F. Cisnero 2019. Atlas of Brazilian snakes: verified point-locality maps to mitigate the Wallacean shortfall in a megadiverse snake fauna. South American J. Herp. 14 (Special Issue 1):1-274 - get paper here
  • Peters, James A.; Donoso-Barros, Roberto & Orejas-Miranda, Braulio 1970. Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: Part I Snakes. Part II Lizards and Amphisbaenians. Bull. US Natl. Mus. 297: 347 pp. - get paper here
  • Rabosky, Daniel L.; Rudolf von May, Michael C. Grundler and Alison R. Davis Rabosky 2019. The Western Amazonian Richness Gradient for Squamate Reptiles: Are There Really Fewer Snakes and Lizards in Southwestern Amazonian Lowlands? Diversity 11: 199; doi:10.3390/d11100199 - get paper here
  • RIVAS, GILSON A.; CÉSAR R. MOLINA, GABRIEL N. UGUETO, TITO R. BARROS, CÉSAR L. BAR- RIO-AMORÓS & PHILIPPE J. R. KOK 2012. Reptiles of Venezuela: an updated and commented checklist. Zootaxa 3211: 1–64 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Karl P. 1953. The Amazonian coral snake. Fieldiana Zoology 34 (14): 171-180 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Karl P. 1955. Coral snakes of the genus Micrurus in Colombia. Fieldiana Zoology 34 (34): 337-359 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Karl P. & Walker, Warren F. 1943. Peruvian snakes from the University of Arequipa. Zoological Series of Field Museum of Zoology 24 (26): 279-296 - get paper here
  • Valencia, J. H., K. Garzón-Tello & M. E. Barragán-Paladines 2016. Serpientes venenosas del Ecuador: sistemática, taxonomía, historia natural, conservación, envenenamiento y aspectos antropológicos. Quito, Ecuador, Fundación Herpetológica Gustavo Orcés, Universidad de Texas, Fondo Ambiental Nacional, 652 pp. [review in HR 49 (1): 152, 2018]
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Welch, K. R. G. 1994. Snakes of the World. A Checklist. I. Venomous snakes. KCM Books, Somerset, England.
  • Werner, F. 1927. Neue oder wenig bekannte Schlangen aus dem Wiener naturhistorischen Staatsmuseum (III. Teil). Sitzungsb. Akad. Wiss. Wien, Math. Naturwiss. Kl. 143 [135?]: 243-257 [1926] - get paper here
 
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