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Rhadinaea vermiculaticeps (COPE, 1860)

IUCN Red List - Rhadinaea vermiculaticeps - Near Threatened, NT

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Dipsadinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Vermiculate Graceful Brown Snake 
SynonymTaeniophis vermiculaticeps COPE 1860: 249
Rhadinaea vermiculaticeps — COPE 1863: 101
Enicognathus taeniolatus JAN 1863 (part., see comment)
Enicognathus taeniolatus — JAN 1866
Liophis vermimaculaticeps — AMARAL 1929: 175 (in error)
Rhadinaea vermiculaticeps — TAYLOR 1951: 116
Rhadinaea vermiculaticeps — PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970: 268
Rhadinaea vermiculaticeps — VILLA et al. 1988
Rhadinaea vermiculaticeps — WALLACH et al. 2014: 642 
DistributionWC Panama

Type locality: New Granada (Colombia), Cocuyas de
TypesSyntypes: ANSP 3534-35, 3741 (3) 
DiagnosisDEFINITION: Snakes allied to Taeniophis vermiculaticeps Cope; scales smooth, pitless, usually the same number throughout body, but reducing in two Colombian species, usually 17, rarely 19 or 21; maxillary dentition with slight gap posteriorly, followed by two slightly enlarged ungrooved fangs; hemipenis unforked, with basal hooks and calyculate and capitate tip; body color uniform or striped (Dunn 1944: 490).

REMARKS: I regard this genus, with its similarly striped body and grooved tooth ally Coniophanes, and its ringed ally Pliocercus, all of which enter the Andean region of South America, as of northern origin and quite distinct from the southern genera with which they have been confused (Liophis with Rhadinaea; Erythrolamprus with Coniophanes) (Dunn 1944: 491).

DIAGNOSIS: Specimens of Rhadinaea vermiculaticeps are easily recognized by the combination of a pale reticulum on the head and a broad (three scale rows) middorsal black stripe that is broken along the middle by a pale line. The related R. sargenti may have a weak indication of the dorsal stripe but the sides and ventral tips are uniformly dark, whereas vermiculaticeps has lighter sides with a dark line and the ends of the ventrals have dark dots (Myers 1974: 163).

Coloration: The ground color of the body is light brown. A brown stripe passes along the side of the head and onto the neck, where it is narrowed to a blackish line that extends the length of the body on adjacent parts of scale rows 4 and 5. This line tends to be somewhat blurred along its lower edge. A broad, blackish middorsal stripe on the median three scale rows is broken along the middle by a whitish line, which either covers all of the vertebral row or only its midline. (Because of the pale line, the middorsal pattern could as well be described as a pair of dark paravertebral stripes.) The lateral and dorsal stripes extend nearly to the end of the tail; the pale vertebral line disappears gradually on the tail. The top of the head is brown, with a conspicuous black-edged, whitish reticulum from the eyes back. The posterior parts of this reticulum merge on the nape, thus forming the pale vertebral line that extends to the tail. A narrow, black-edged whitish stripe extends from the canthus rostralis (where it is faint) through the top of the eye and passes to the neck, where it blends into the brown of the body. The supralabials and infralabials are dotted with black and also may tend to have black sutures. The venter is white. There is a conspicuous dark dot near the rear margin of each ventral tip, changing to a dark line along the ends of the subcaudals. Two specimens from El Valle have an additional amount of dark speckling along the sides of the belly and over the subcaudal surfaces (Myers 1974: 165). 
CommentType species: Taeniophis vermiculaticeps COPE 1860 is the type species of the genus Rhadinaea COPE 1863.

Synonymy that of PETERS & OREJAS-MIRANDA 1970. Kaiser et al. 2013 considered the generic names Alexteesus Hoser 2012, Barrygoldsmithus Hoser 2012, Desmondburkeus Hoser 2012, Dudleyserpens Hoser 2012, Jockpaullus Hoser 2012, Robvalenticus Hoser 2012, Wallisserpens Hoser 2012 invalid and rejected their use instead of Rhadinaea.
MYERS (1974: 202) and DI-BERNARDO (1992: 233) synonymized the type of Enicognathus taeniolatus with Rhadinea brevirostris (PETER, 1863), DIXON (1980: 16) took E. taeniolatus JAN in incerta sedis melanostigma WAGLER, 1824. But these authors did not examine the holotype. According to DI-BERNARDO, after he has seen a photo of the type (pers. comm., 1997) the holotype is most similar to Rhadinea vermiculaticeps (COPE, 1860) or R. sargenti DUNN & BAILEY, 1939 from Costa Rica or Panama (from Hallermann 1998). Wallach et al. 2014 list Enicognathus taeniolatus as synonym of Taeniophallus brevirostris.

Phylogenetics: García-Sotlo et al. 2021 published a recent phylogeny of the genus with many newly determined sequences.

Distribution: JAN 1866 also states that Enicognathus taeniolatus is from “Brésil” [= Brazil]. 
EtymologyThe name translates as "rhadine," which along with the Latin generic forming suffix -a(ea), means slender or graceful (LEMOS-ESPINAL & DIXON 2013). 
  • Amaral,A. do 1930. Estudos sobre ophidios neotropicos XVIII. Lista remissiva dos ophidios da região neotropica. Mem. Inst. Butantan 4: 126-271 [1929] - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1860. Catalogue of the Colubridae in the Museum of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, with notes and descriptions of new species. Part II. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 12: 241-266 - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1863. Descriptions of new American Squamata in the Museum of the Smtihsonian Institution. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 15 [1863]: 100-106 - get paper here
  • Dunn, E.R. 1944. A revision of the Colombian snakes of the genera Leimadophis, Lygophis, Liophis, Rhadinaea, and Pliocercus, with a note on Colombian Coniophanes. Caldasia 2 (10): 479-495 - get paper here
  • García-Sotelo, U. A., García-Vázquez, U. O., & Espinosa, D. 2021. Historical biogeography of the genus Rhadinaea (Squamata: Dipsadinae). Ecology and Evolution, 11: 12413– 12428 - get paper here
  • Hallermann, J. 1998. Annotated catalogue of the type specimens of the herpetological collection in the Zoological Museum of the University of Hamburg. Mitt. hamb. zool. Mus. Inst 95: 197-223.
  • Hoser, R.T. 2012. A division of the Neotropical genus Rhadinaea Cope, 1863 (Serpentes: Colubridae). Australasian J. Herpetol. 13:47–54 - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1866. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 16. Livraison. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Kaiser, H.; Crother, B.I.; Kelly, C.M.R.; Luiselli, L.; O’Shea, M.; Ota, H.; Passos, P.; Schleip, W.D. & Wüster, W. 2013. Best Practices: In the 21st Century, Taxonomic Decisions in Herpetology are Acceptable Only When Supported by a Body of Evidence and Published via Peer-Review. Herpetological Review 44 (1): 8-23
  • Myers, C.W. 1974. The systematics of Rhadinaea (Colubridae), a genus of New World snakes. Bull. Amer. Mus. nat. Hist. 153 (1): 1-262 - 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
  • Taylor,E.H. 1951. A brief review ot the snakes of Costa Rica. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 34 (1): 3-188 - get paper here
  • Villa, J., Wilson, L.D., Johnson, J.D. 1988. Middle American Herpetology - A Bibliographic Checklist. University of Missouri Press, 132 pp [review in Copeia 1989 (3): 802]
  • 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.
  • Zipkin, Elise F.; Graziella V. DiRenzo, Julie M. Ray, Sam Rossman, Karen R. Lips 2020. Tropical snake diversity collapses after widespread amphibian loss. Science 367: 814–816 - get paper here
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