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Sonora straminea (COPE, 1860)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Namescinctus: E: Variable Sand Snake, Banded Sand Snake
cinctus: G: Gebänderte Sandschlange
S: Arenera de Modelo Variable 
SynonymChilomeniscus stramineus COPE 1860: 339
Chilomeniscus ephippicus COPE 1867
Carphophis straminea — GARMAN 1884: 99
Chilomeniscus stramineus — VAN DENBURGH 1895: 138
Chilomeniscus punctatissimus VAN DENBURGH & SLEVIN 1921
Chilomeniscus punctatissimus CLIFF 1954
Chilomeniscus punctatissimus — BANTA & LEVITON 1963
Chilomeniscus stramineus — STEBBINS 1985: 244
Chilomeniscus stramineus — LINER 1994
Chilomeniscus punctatissimus — LINER 1994
Chilomeniscus stramineus — MATTISON 2007: 85
Chilomeniscus stramineus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 159
Sonora straminea — COX et al. 2018
Sonora (Chilomeniscus) punctatissima — COX et al. 2018: 974
Chilomeniscus stramineus — LEMOS-ESPINAL et al. 2019 
DistributionMexico (S Baja California Sur, Sinaloa)

Type locality: ‘Cape St. Lucas, Lower California [Baja California Sur]’.

punctatissimus: Mexico (Baja California Sur: Partida Island, Espiritu Santo Island); Type locality: “Isla Partida, Espiritu Santo Island, Gulf of California, Mexico’ [= Partida Island]  
TypesSyntypes: ANSP 3405, USNM 4674, 6495
Holotype: SDNHM = SDSNH 30368; paratypes SDNHM = SDSNH 30364-30367, 30369, 30370 [esterensis]
Holotype: CAS 49156 [punctatissimus] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Sonora straminea can be distinguished from all other Sonora except for S. fasciata and S. cincta by the presence of an elongated rostrum. Sonora straminea is sympatric or narrowly allopatric only with S. fasciata, which shares the elongated rostrum. S. fasciata can be distinguished from S. straminea by the lack of apical maculations (Cox et al. 2018: 974).

Variation: Sonora straminea is one of only three species of Sonora that lack coloured bands or stripes, and is uniformly brown. Accordingly, this species lacks colour polymorphism and coral snake mimicry (Cox et al. 2018: 974).

Diagnosis (punctatissima): Sonora punctatissima can be distinguished from all other Sonora except for S. fasciata, S. cincta, S. stramineus and S. savagei by the presence of an elongated rostrum. Perhaps the best way to distinguish S. punctatissima from S. fasciata, S. cincta, S. stramineus and S. savagei is by geographic location; S. punctatissima is the only member of the genus Sonora on Partida and Espiritu Santo Islands. However, S. punctatissima can be distinguished from S. stramineus by lacking apical maculations on dorsal body scales (Holm 2008), although Grismer et al. (2002) noted the presence of blotches on scales of some morphs. Sonora punctatissima can be distinguished from S. savagei by having less than 127 ventral scales, compared to greater than 127 for S. savagei (Holm 2008). Sonora punctatissima can be distinguished from S. fasciata and S. cincta by either a gap between the internasals, possessing less than 35 bands and variation in ventral and subcaudal scale numbers summarized in Holm (2008) (Cox et al. 2018: 972).

Variation (punctatissima): This is a variable species, especially given the limited geographic range, with Grismer et al. (2002) describing four main pattern classes and individuals with intermediate pattern types. This species can be banded or unbanded, and the expression of bands in the banded individuals varies between a clearly demarcated black bands to grey or brown bands with indistinct margins (Cox et al. 2018: 972). 
CommentSynonymy: Chilomeniscus cinctus and C. punctatissimus have been synonymized with C. stramineus by GRISMER et al. (2002) but revalidated by Cox et al. 2018.

Type species: Chilomeniscus stramineus COPE 1860 is the type species of the genus Chilomeniscus COPE 1860.

All members of the genus Chilomeniscus have an elongated rostrum and are adapted to sandy, scrubby, and arid habitats in northern Mexico and south-western USA. 
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  • Cliff, Frank S. 1954. Snakes of the islands in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Transactions of the San Diego Society of Natural History 12 (5): 67-98 - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1861. Contributions to the ophiology of Lower California, Mexico and Central America. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 13: 292-306 - get paper here
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  • Cope, E.D. 1867. On the REPTILIA and BATRACHIA of the Sonoran Province of the Nearctic Region. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 18 [1866]: 300-314 - get paper here
  • Cox, Christian L.; Alison R. Davis Rabosky, Iris A. Holmes, Jacobo Reyes-Velasco, Corey E. Roelke, Eric N. Smith, Oscar Flores-Villela, Jimmy A. McGuire & Jonathan A. Campbell 2018. Synopsis and taxonomic revision of three genera in the snake tribe Sonorini. Journal of Natural History 52: 945-988 - get paper here
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