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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
DistributionHonduras (Atlántida)

Type locality: Comunidad Salado Barra in Refugio de Vida Silvestre Barras de Cuero y Salado (15.7633°N, 86.9948°W), elevation 7 m asl, Municipio de El Porvenir, Departamento de Atlántida, Honduras.  
TypesHolotype. UVS-V 1189 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras en Valle de Sula), adult male, collected 21 May 2018 by Cristopher Antúnez-Fonseca, Farlem España, Jocelyn Castro, Emmanuel Orellana, José Paz, and Lourdes Alvarado. Original field number CS 15. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Tantilla lydia sp. nov. is a member of the Tantilla taeniata species group, but distinguished from all other congeners by possessing the following combination of characteristics: (1) pale middorsal stripe dark-edged, occupying middorsal scale row and adjacent third of paravertebral rows on anterior third of body, reducing to median half of vertebral row on remainder of body, beginning approximately on tenth middorsal scale past parietals, posterior to more or less circular pale spot just posterior to dark nape band located behind pale nuchal collar; (2) pale nuchal collar incomplete dorsally, divided by dark coloration on vertebral scales and connecting to dark posterior border of dark head cap and dark nape band; (3) lateral extension of dark head cap incomplete, not completely separating postocular pale spot from pale nuchal band; (4) subocular dark spot present, not extending to lip; (5) ventrolateral region of body a much darker shade of brown than dorsolateral region; (6) pale lateral stripe well defined, dark edged, located on adjacent halves of dorsal scales 3 and 4; (7) paraventral scale completely pale on anterior portion, gradually darkening dorsally, until becoming completely dark at the beginning of tail; (8) postnasal and preocular narrowly separated; (9) 169 ventrals,75 subcaudals, and 244 ventrals + subcaudals in the single male holotype.
Tantilla lydia can be differentiated from the other members of the T. taeniata group (Tables 1–2) by having (scutellation data for males only): 169 ventrals (vs. 152 in T. berguidoi, 139–152 in T. brevicauda, 172 in T. briggsi, 139–145 in T. cuniculator, 154–166 in T. flavilineata, 142–158 in T. gottei, 157 in T. hendersoni, 162–165 in T. impensa, 144–147 in T. jani, 144–159 in T. johnsoni, 151–158 in T. oaxacae, 148 in T. olympia, 153–163 in T. psittaca, 158–159 in T. reticulata, 164 in T. stenigrammi, 146–161 in T. striata, 141–152 in T. taeniata, 140–144 in T. tayrae, 157 in T. tritaeniata, and 136–146 in T. vulcani); 75 subcaudals (vs. 65 in T. berguidoi, 22–26 in T. brevicauda, 68 in T. briggsi, 53–58 in T. cuniculator, 70 in T. excelsa, 51–56 in T. flavilineata, 62–67 in T. gottei, 70 in T. hendersoni, 68–72 in T. impensa, 44–47 in T. jani, 62 in T. johnsoni, 46–52 in T. oaxacae, 49 in T. olympia, 63–73 in T. psittaca, 60–67 in T. reticulata, 33–42 in T. striata, 60–70 in T. taeniata, 46–49 in T. tayrae, and 39–50 in T. vulcani); pale nuchal band narrowly divided middorsally (vs. obscure but complete in T. berguidoi, complete dorsally in T. brevicauda, T. cuniculator, T. excelsa, T. flavilineata, T. gottei, T. johnsoni, T. stenigrammi, T. taeniata, T. tecta, T. trilineata, and T. triseriata, and reduced to two nuchal spots in T. striata); by having nuchal band extending onto parietals (vs. nuchal band confined to scales posterior to parietals in T. hendersoni, T. slavensi, and T. tayrae); pale middorsal stripe occupying middorsal scale row and adjacent portions of paravertebral rows on anterior third of body, narrowing to median portion of middorsal scale row on remainder of body (vs. confined to median portion of middorsal scale row length of body in T. berguidoi, restricted to spots on vertebral row in T. brevicauda, T. jani, T. olympia, and T. vulcani, absent in T. briggsi, T. cuniculator, and T. johnsoni, absent or barely indicated, consisting of series of disjunct paler spots on anterior portion of middorsal scales length of trunk or some portion of anterior end thereof in T. tayrae, present on middorsal scale row and some portion of paravertebral scale rows length of body in T. excelsa, T. flavilineata, T. gottei, T. oaxacae, T. psittaca, T. reticulata, T. striata, T. taeniata, and T. tritaeniata, confined to middorsal scale row length of body in T. hendersoni, T. impensa, T. tecta, and T. trilineata, confined to middorsal scale row, becoming increasingly obscured and fragmented posteriorly in T. slavensi, and confined to middorsal scale row anteriorly and extending onto adjacent edges of paravertebral scale rows posteriorly on body in T. stenigrammi, T. tecta, and T. triseriata); pale lateral stripe well-defined, occupying adjacent portions of dorsal scale rows 3 and 4 (vs. occupying dorsal scale 4 and adjacent halves of rows 3 and 5 in T. berguidoi, T. excelsa, T. flavilineata, T. oaxacae, T. reticulata, and T. stenigrammi, poorly defined, occupying all of row 4, upper half of row 3, and sometimes lower portion of row 5 in T. brevicauda, interrupted on adjacent portion of scale rows 3 and 4 in T. briggsi, barely discernible on adjacent portions of scale rows 3 and 4 in T. cuniculator, absent or occupying portion of adjacent portions of scale rows 3 and 4, most clearly or barely evident on anterior portion of trunk in T. johnsoni and T. tayrae, well-defned, consisting of spots on scale row 4 in T. olympia); paraventral scale pale anteriorly, gradually darkening until reaching tail (vs. uniformly tan, brown, or dark brown length of body in T. berguidoi, T. brevicauda, T. cuniculator, T. jani, T. johnsoni, T. oaxacae, T. reticulata, T. striata, T. tayrae, T. tecta, and T. vulcani, lower portion pale, distinctly set off from dark upper half length of body in T. briggsi, T. gottei, T. hendersoni, and T. impensa, lower two-thirds anteriorly and about lower one-third posteriorly white similar to color of ventrals in T. excelsa; dark streak on posterior portion of otherwise pale colored scale in T. flavilineata, with pale center, edged with dark pigment in T. olympia, lower two-thirds pale, area with pale pigment slightly decreasing posteriorly on body in T. psittaca, lower half pale, distinctly set off from dark brown upper half in T. slavensi and T. taeniata, lower half to two-thirds of scale row 1 colored similarly to ventrals in T. stenigrammi, unpigmented on anterior half or more of body, upper half darkly pigmented thereafter in T. triseriata, lower tip pale, decreasing in amount of coverage posteriorly in T. tritaeniata); and by venter immaculate white (vs. increasingly involved with ventral edge of ventrolateral dark stripe proceeding toward tail tip in T. berguidoi, sometimes lightly pigmented in T. brevicauda, immaculate cream anteriorly to pale pink posteriorly in T. briggsi, immaculate reddish-orange in T. cuniculator, white with little or no dark spotting in T. excelsa, scattering of brown pigment in T. flavilineata, edged with dark brown spotting in T. jani, with slight extension of tan coloration of first scale row in T. oaxacae, darkly pigmented in T. olympia and T. reticulata, immaculate pink anteriorly grading to red on posterior two-thirds of body in T. psittaca, immaculate orange in T. slavensi, usually immaculate, but sometimes with a few small dark spots in T. taeniata, dark spot on extreme anterolateral portion of each ventral in T. tayrae, and edged with same color as that of paraventral row in T. tecta, and darkly edged with color similar to that of paraventral row, remainder of venter white in T. vulcani).

Comparisons: see Tables 1 and 2 in ANTÚNEZ-FONSECA et al. 2020 for a comparison of characters between the members of the taeniata group. 
CommentConservation status. Critically Endangered (B1ab[iii]). Environmental Vulnerability Score (EVS): 16 (6+8+2) within the “High Vulnerability” category. 
EtymologyNamed in honor of Dr. Lydia Allison Fucsko who resides in Melbourne, Australia, and is an amphibian conservationist and environmental activist. As an internationally published photographer, she has taken countless pictures of amphibians, including photo galleries of mostly southeastern Australian frogs. The name is used as a noun in apposition, with the spelling of the Latin transliteration from the Ancient Greek Λυδία (Ludia), meaning “beauty, beautiful, noble one.” 
  • Antúnez-Fonseca CA, Castro JA, España FG, Townsend JH, Wilson LD. 2020. A new species of Tantilla of the taeniata group (Squamata: Colubridae) from Refugio de Vida Silvestre Barras de Cuero y Salado in Caribbean coastal Honduras. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 14(3) [Taxonomy Section]: 86–102 (e258) - get paper here
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