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Oxyrhopus fitzingeri (TSCHUDI, 1845)

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesOxyrhopus fitzingeri fitzingeri (TSCHUDI 1845)
Oxyrhopus fitzingeri frizzelli SCHMIDT & WALKER 1943 
Common NamesE: Fitzinger's False Coral Snake 
SynonymSiphlophis Fitzingeri TSCHUDI 1845: 165
Oxyrhopus fitzingeri — JAN 1863: 93
Oxyrrhopus [sic] fitzingeri — COPE 1878: 33
Oxyrhopus fitzingeri — PETERS et al. 1970: 231
Oxyrhopus fitzingeri — WALLACH et al. 2014: 517

Oxyrhopus fitzingeri frizzelli SCHMIDT & WALKER 1943
Oxyrhopus fitzingeri frizzelli SCHMIDT & WALKER 1943: 313
Clelia fitzingeri — DUNN 1923
Pseudoboa fitzingeri — AMARAL 1925 
DistributionW Ecuador, W Peru

frizzelli: Peru (Piura); Type locality: Negritos, Piura, Peru.

Type locality: Peru  
TypesLectotype: MHNN (Neuchatel)
Holotype: FMNH No. 35997 [frizzelli] 
DiagnosisDescription: Oxyrhopus fitzingeri fitzingeri is a medium-sized snake with the strong musculature of a constricting species, characterized by singularly irregular dark brown markings on a yellowish ground color. These spots may cover only a single scale, or may be confluent into blotches or zigzag lines. It is distinguished from its northern subspecies (described below) by a much higher number of ventrals and caudals. It is a common snake of the arid coastal region from sea level to at least 6,000 feet altitude in the Rimac Valley.
We have examined a single specimen in Field Museum, No. 34361, from Surco, collected by Marshall Hertig in 1938. This specimen, a female, has ventrals 227 and caudals 94; by division of anterior labials, there are 10 upper labials on each side; preoculars 2 on the left, 1 on the right side; length 714, tail 157.
Search of the literature discloses two additional female specimens from the Rimac Valley or presumably so, and these agree with our Surco specimen and with the type in number of ventrals. In the type the ventrals number 236 and caudals 77, and it undoubtedly is a female; the specimen recorded by Boulenger has ventrals 232 and caudals 81; and one from Verrugas Canyon (see Hertig, 1942, pt. Ill, p. 24 and pi. 1), collected by C. H. T. Townsend, has ventrals 227 and caudals 79. The senior author has elsewhere called attention to the confusion of data in the Dresden Museum collection reported upon by Werner (1901). Much of the Chanchamayo material in the collection undoubtedly was received from the Chanchamayo near La Merced in the Department of Junin, the residence of Carlos Schunke, a dealer in museum specimens; but this could scarcely have been the locality where Oxyrhopus fitzingeri and Micrurus tschudii were collected. Such confusion of data in collections received from foreign correspondents is a not infrequent occurrence. TheDresdencollectionincludesspecimenswithboth high and low numbers of ventrals; but as these are not sexed they cannot be assorted, even arbitrarily, to the two subspecies of fitzingeri (SCHMIDT & WALKER 1943: 312).

Diagnosis (frizzelli): An Oxyrhopus with the typical fitzingeri coloration, but with a much lower number of ventrals, 202-207 in females, contrasted with 227-236 in four female fitzingeri; and of caudals 57-69 instead of 77-94 (SCHMIDT & WALKER 1943: 314).

Description of type (frizzelli): A relatively slender snake with small pointed head scarcely distinct from the neck. Rostral wider than high, well visible from above; internasals much smaller than prefrontals, their suture less than half that of the prefrontals; frontal a little longer than wide, shorter than the parietals; loreal twice as long as high; preocular single, widely separated from the frontal, postoculars 2 on each side; upper labials 8-8, the fourth and fifth entering the eye; lower labials 9-9 (SCHMIDT & WALKER 1943: 314).

Coloration (frizzelli): General ground color pale yellow, the venter and lowermost scale rows immaculate; back heavily and irregularly marked with dark brown spots, mostly following scale outlines; top of head mottled with dark on a paler brown ground color; a solid dark brown nuchal mark nearly as long as the head (SCHMIDT & WALKER 1943: 314). 
CommentSynonymy of frizzelli after SCHMIDT & WALKER 1943.

Photo on cover of Ophidia 2 (2) (2008). 
EtymologyNamed after Leopold Josef Fitzinger (1802-1884), Austrian naturalist.

The subspecies frizzelli was named after the collectors, Harriet E. and Don L. Frizzell. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1878. Synopsis of the cold blooded Vertebrata, procured by Prof. James Orton, during his exploration of Peru in 1876-77. Proc. Amer. Philos. Soc. 17: 33-49 [1877] - get paper here
  • Cuadrado SS, Loor YA, Narváez AE 2020. Herpetofauna of Engabao, Playas Canton, Ecuador, with notes on the occurrence of Ceratoprhys stolzmanni (Steindachner, 1882). Check List 16(3): 665-674 - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1863. Elenco Sistematico degli Ofidi descriti e disegnati per l'Iconografia Generale. Milano, A. Lombardi. vii + 143 pp. - get paper here
  • Mendoza A, Pérez J, Alvarado E, Barrera D, Castillo E, Fernandez M, Milla J, Olivera D, Ramirez C, Santa Cruz R, Salazar E, Torres-Ccasani G, Aguilar-Puntriano C. 2023. Anfibios y reptiles del departamento de Ica con comentarios sobre su distribución. Revista peruana de biología 30(1): e23425 001- 014 (Marzo 2023)
  • 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
  • Schätti, B. 1985. Catalogue des types et des exemplaires figurés du Musée d’Histoire Naturelle de Neuchâtel - II. Ophidiens. Bibliotheques et Muses de la Ville de Neuchatel, 1985: 98-108.
  • Schmidt,K.P. & WALKER Jr. ,W.F. 1943. Snakes of the Peruvian coastal region. Zool. Ser. Field Mus. nat. Hist., Chicago, 24: 297-327 - get paper here
  • Schultschik, Günther 2001. Leben und Werk des Leopold Jos. Fitzinger. Beiträge zur Literatur und Geschichte der Herpetologie und Terrarienkunde 1: - 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
  • Tschudi,J. J. von 1845. Reptilium conspectum quae in republica Peruana reperiuntur er pleraque observata vel collecta sunt in itenere. Archiv für Naturgeschichte 11 (1): 150-170 [reprint 1968, SSAR; sometimes cited as being published in 1846]. - get paper here
  • 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.
  • Werner, FRANZ 1901. Reptilien und Batrachier aus Peru und Bolivien. Abhandl. Ber. Zool. Anthrop. Mus. Dresden, 9 (2): 1-14 [1900] - get paper here
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