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Sonora taylori (BOULENGER, 1894)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Taylor’s Ground Snake
S: Culebrilla de Taylor 
SynonymContia taylori BOULENGER 1894
Chionactis taylorii — COPE 1900: 936
Sonora taylori — STEJNEGER & BARBOUR 1917: 92
Sonora taylori — STICKEL 1938: 184
Sonora taylori — STICKEL 1943
Sonora taylori — SMITH & TAYLOR 1945
Sonora semiannulata taylori — FROST & VAN DEVENDER 1979: 6
Sonora semiannulata — FROST 1983: 333.1
Sonora semiannulata taylori — DIXON 2000
Sonora semiannulata taylori — CROTHER et al. 2012
Sonora (Sonora) taylori — COX et al. 2018: 970 
DistributionUSA (S Texas), Mexico (Tamaulipas ?)

Type locality: Duval Co., Texas, and Nuevo Leon, Mexico, restricted to Duval County, Texas by Stickel 1943.  
TypesSyntypes: BMNH 1946.1.5.57–1946.1.5.5 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: This species is distinct from Sonora cincta, S. fasciata, S. straminea, S. aemula, S. annulata, S. occipitalis and S. palarostris by the lack of rostral or caudal adaptations. Sonora taylori can be potentially confused only with S. episcopa, with which it is either sympatric or narrowly allopatric. The S. semiannulata species group has been historically difficult to define using morphological characteristics, and in fact it was this lack of clear colour pattern or meristic characters delimiting species that led Frost and VanDevender (1979) to synonymize many different species and subspecies into S. semiannulata. However, our genetic data show clear reciprocal monophyly of S. episcopa and S. taylori. Perhaps the best way to distinguish S. episcopa from S. taylori is by geographic range (see below). Besides geographic range, Dixon and Werler (2005) suggest that S. taylori can be distinguished from S. episcopa based upon the presence of 13 midbody scale rows (compared to 14 or 15 in S. episcopa) (Cox et al. 2018: 970).

Variation: Sonora taylori is one of only three species in the genus that do not have bands or stripes, and so lack polymorphism and coral snake mimicry. This uniformly brown snake has some slight variation in ground colour from grey to tan, buff or brown, and Dixon and Werler (2005) have noted that the maculated scales often give the impression of light longitudinal lines. In addition, this species does have polymorphism for the black cap on the head (Figure 3 in Cox et al. 2018: 970). 
CommentDistribution: Not in Nuevo León fide Nevárez-de los Reyes et al. 2016 (who consider it as part of S. semiannulata). Specimens from Tamaulipas may be S. taylori but Cox et al. 2018 did not have any DNa samples from that state so they state that the occurrence there has not been confirmed.

Synonymy: Frost 1983 and Wallach et al. 2014: 681 listed this species as synonym of S. semiannulata. 
EtymologyA patronimic after W. Taylor. It is likely to correspond to a William Taylor from the British Museum, collector of the type specimens. 
  • Boulenger, George A. 1894. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume II., Containing the Conclusion of the Colubridæ Aglyphæ. British Mus. (Nat. Hist.), London, xi, 382 pp. - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1900. The crocodilians, lizards and snakes of North America. Ann. Rep. U.S. Natl. Mus. 1898: 153-1270 - 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
  • Crother, B. I. (ed.) 2012. Standard Common and Current Scientific Names for North American Amphibians, Turtles, Reptiles, and Crocodilians, Seventh Edition. Herpetological Circular 39: 1-92
  • Dixon, James R. 2000. Amphibians and reptiles of Texas, second edition. Texas A&M University Press, 421 pp.
  • Frost D R 1983. Sonora semiannulata Baird and Girard. Ground snake. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles ( 333: 1-4 - get paper here
  • Frost, D. R. 1983. The relationships of the ground snakes (genus Sonora) in Baja California, Mexico. Trans. Kansas Acad. Sci. 86: 31-37. - get paper here
  • Frost, D. R., and T. R. Van Devender 1979. The relationship of the groundsnakes Sonora semiannulata and S. episcopa (Serpentes: Colubridae). Occas. Pap. Mus. Zool. Louisiana State Univ. 52: 1-9. - get paper here
  • Mulaik, S. & D. Mulaik 1941. Variation in Sonora taylori Copeia 1941 (4): 263. - get paper here
  • Smith, Hobart M. & Taylor, Edward H. 1945. An annotated checklist and key to the snakes of Mexico. Bull. US Natl. Mus. (187): iv + 1-239 - get paper here
  • Stejneger, L.H., and T. Barbour 1917. A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. Harvard University Press, Cambridge. 4: i-iv, 1-125 - get paper here
  • Stickel, W.H. 1943. The Mexican snakes of the genera Sonora and Chionactis with notes on the status of other colubrid genera. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 56: 109-128 - get paper here
  • Stickel, William H. 1938. The snakes of the genus Sonora in the United States and Lower California. Copeia 1938 (4): 182-190 - get paper here
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