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Micrurus ornatissimus (JAN, 1858)

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Ornate Coralsnake 
SynonymElaps ornatissimus JAN 1858: 521
Elaps buckleyi BOULENGER 1896: 416
Micrurus ornatissimus — SCHMIDT 1936: 191
Micrurus langsdorffi — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 211
Micrurus langsdorffi ornatissimus — PEREZ-SANTOS & MORENO 1988: 388
Micrurus langsdorffi ornatissimus — WELCH 1994: 85
Micrurus ornatissimus — LEHR 2002: 205
Micrurus ornatissimus — CARVALHO 2002
Micrurus cf. ornatissimus — BERNARDE et al. 2012
Micrurus ornatissimus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 451 
DistributionAmazonian slopes of the Andes in E Ecuador, Colombia, N Peru

Type locality: in error (see comment)  
TypesHolotype: MSNM = MilM = Milan Museum 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A coral snake with a light spot on each supraocular shield in most specimens, black rings not in triads, the black rings edged with very narrow yellow rings that are reduced to yellow spots on half scales, so that the yellow rings are discontinuous. The red rings are subject to darkening with black pigment and the black rings to fading, producing an almost uniform coloration from which the yellow half-scales stand out as strikingly distinct spots; the venter fades to complete loss of the dark rings [from SCHMIDT 1955]. 
CommentSynonymy partly after PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970.

Distribution: Some populations from Western Amazonia have been split off as Micrurus tikuna. Not in Brazil fide Nogueira et al 2019 (Atlas).


Terra typica erroneously given as “Mexico” (fide SCHMIDT 1936). 
EtymologyThe name ornatissimus is Latin for very ornate or decorated, probably alluding to the light head spots and the pearly white crossbands that, in combination with the brilliant red bands, make it look quite "ornamentissimus" in life.  
  • Amaral, A. 1935. Estudos sobre ophídios neotropicos XXXIII. Novas especies de ophídios do Colombia. Mem. Inst. Butantan 9: 219-223 + 1 plate - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp. - get paper here
  • Campbell, J.A. & Lamar, W.W. 1989. The Venomous Reptiles of Latin America. Comstock Publishing/Cornell University Press, Ithaca
  • Cope, E.D. 1868. An examination of the Reptilia and Batrachia obtained by the Orton Expedition to Equador and the Upper Amazon, with notes on other species. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 20: 96-140 - get paper here
  • Cunha, O.R. da and Nascimento,F.P. 1982. Ofídios da Amazônia. XVII. Revalidação de Micrurus ornatissimus (Jan, 1858) diferenciada de M. Langsdorffi (Wagler, 1824) e distribuição geográfica das duas espécies (Ophidia: Elapidae). Bol. Mus. Para. Emílio Goeldi (Zool.), Belém (116): 1-19. - get paper here
  • 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
  • FEITOSA, DARLAN TAVARES; NELSON JORGE DA SILVA JR., MATHEUS GODOY PIRES, HUSSAM ZAHER & ANA LÚCIA DA COSTA PRUDENTE 2015. A new species of monadal coral snake of the genus Micrurus (Serpentes, Elapidae) from western Amazon. Zootaxa 3974 (4): 538–554
  • Fugler, Charles M. and A. Brad Walls. 1978. Snakes of the Upano Valley of Amazonian Ecuador. Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science 53 (3): 81-87 - get paper here
  • Günther, A. 1868. Sixth account of new species of snakes in the collection of the British Museum. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (4) 1: 413-429 - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1858. Plan d'une iconographie descriptive des ophidiens et description sommaire de nouvelles espèces des serpents. Rev. Mag. Zool. Paris (2) 10: 438-449, 514-527 - get paper here
  • Lehr, E. 2002. Amphibien und Reptilien in Peru. Natur und Tier-Verlag (Münster), 208 pp. - get paper here
  • Morato de Carvalho, C. 2002. Descrição de uma nova espécie de Micrurus do Estado de Roraima, Brasil (Serpentes, Elapidae). Pap. Avul. Zool., Sao Paulo 42(8):183-192 - get paper here
  • Pérez-Santos,C. & Moreno, A.G. 1988. Ofidios de Colombia. Museo reegionale di Scienze Naturali, Torino, Monographie VI, 517 pp.
  • Peters , J. A. 1960. The snakes of Ecuador; check list and key. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 122: 489-541 - get paper here
  • Peters, James A.; Donoso-Barros, Roberto & Orejas-Miranda, Braulio 1970. Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: Part I Snakes. Bull. US Natl. Mus. 297: 347 pp. - get paper here
  • Roze, Jánis A 1967. A checklist of the New World venomous Coral Snakes (Elapidae), with descriptions of new forms. American Museum Novitates (2287): 1-60 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Karl P. 1936. Preliminary account of coral snakes of South America. Zoological Series of Field Museum of Natural History 20 (19): 189-203 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Karl P. 1955. Coral snakes of the genus Micrurus in Colombia. Fieldiana Zoology 34 (34): 337-359 - get paper here
  • Torres-Carvajal O, Pazmiño-Otamendi G, Salazar-Valenzuela D. 2019. Reptiles of Ecuador: a resource-rich portal, with a dynamic checklist and photographic guides. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13 (1): [General Section]: 209–229 (e178) - 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]
  • Wagler, J. 1824. Serpentum Brasiliensium species novae, ou histoire naturelle des espèces nouvelles de serpens. In: Jean de Spix, Animalia nova sive species novae. [NAtrix bahiensis: 27,. Monaco, Typis Franc. Seraph. Hübschmanni, vii + 75 pp.
  • 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.
  • Whithworth, A. & Beirne, C. 2011. Reptiles of the Yachana Reserve. Global Vision International, 130 pp. - get paper here
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