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Tantilla tayrae WILSON, 1983

IUCN Red List - Tantilla tayrae - Data Deficient, DD

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Volcan Tacana Centipede Snake
S: Culebra Centipedívora de Tacaná 
SynonymTantilla tayrae WILSON 1983
Tantilla tayrae — LINER 1994
Tantilla tayrae — LINER 2007
Tantilla tayrae — WILSON & MATA-SILVA 2014: 58
Tantilla tayrae — WALLACH et al. 2014: 706 
DistributionSE Mexico (Chiapas)

Elevation: 760-960 m (WILSON & MATA-SILVA 2014)

Type locality: Finca San Jeronimo, 7.5 km N (by rd.) Cacoahatan (= Cacahoatán or Cacahuatán), elevation 760 m, Volcan Tacana, Municipio de Union Juarez, Chiapas, Mexico.  
TypesHolotype: MVZ 159203, adult male, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, collected 30 July 1978 by Robert L. Seib. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A member of the Tantilla taeniata group characterized by a subdued, narrow pale nuchal collar confined to scales posteriorto parietalsand broadly middorsally divided, a dark brown dorsal ground color, no pale middorsal stripe or the barest indication of one on medial portion of middorsal scale row, and no pale lateralstripe or only a bareindication of one on adjacent halves of dorsal scale rows 3 and 4 on anterior portion of body (Wilson 1983).

Comparisons: Wilson redefined the taeniata section as "characterizedby the presence or absence of a variously-developed pale middorsal stripe and the presence of a variously-developed pale lateral stripe occupying adjacenthalves of rows 3 and 4 on an otherwise tan to dark brown dorsal ground cover. The pale nuchal collar may be complete, divided medially, or divided both medially and laterally (in the latter case the divisions between the resulting pale sections of the collar may be so broad so as to restrict the dorsal markings to spots, as in T. cuesta and T. striata)."
Tantilla tayrae is unusual in showing variation in important characters of dorsal pattern, viz., the presence or absence of pale middorsal and lateral stripes. Tantillataeniataalso shows variation in the nature of the pale nuchal collar and it seems likely that T. briggsi may show variation in the nature of the pale lateral stripe (this species is presently known only from the holotype). Other members of the group, however, have relatively stable diagnostic pattern elements. Tantillatayraeis thought to belong to the taeniatagroup because of the presence of a short pale lateral stripe occupying the adjacenthalves of dorsal scale rows 3 and 4 in two specimens. Of the nine other species known to comprise the taeniata group, T. tayrae appears to be most closely related to the recently described T. cuesta (Wilson, in press). The characters T. tayrae shares with T. cuesta (which, in combination, also distinguish these two species from other members of the taeniata group) are as follows: middorsal pale stripe absent or very poorly indicated; dorsal ground color dark brown; pale lateral stripe, if present, located on adjacent halves of scale rows 3 and 4; dark pigment located along lateral edges of ventrals; pale nuchal markings reduced in extent, but crossing ultimate supralabial; moderate numbers of ventrals (140-144 in T. tayrae,144-147 in T. cuesta)and subcaudals (44-49 in T. tayrae,45-47 in T. cuesta).Tantillatayrae differs markedly from T. cuesta, however, in having the pale lateral stripe absentor poorly-developed and restricted to the anterior portion of the body (well-developed, extending the length of the body, and bounded above and below by dark pigment in T. cuesta) and the pale collar reduced in longitudinal extent, not touching the parietals,and divided medially but not laterally,except in one specimen (pale collar divided medially and laterally with the dorsal markings reduced to spots). Although these two taxaare similar to one another, the distinctions between them in pattern make me think that they are not simply representatives of different populations of the same species. It is interesting to note, however, that these two species came from adjacent volcanoes (Tacanaand Tajomulco) at the upper end of the volcanic axis of Central America at localities about 25 airline kilometers apart (Wilson 1983). 
EtymologyThe name tayrae is a patronym honoring the senior author’s younger daughter Tayra Barbara Wilson, who was 10 years old at the time of the snake’s description, 31 years ago.
Tayra Barbara was named for the Neo-tropical mustelid called by the Spanish name tayra in some parts of its range (the current scientific name for this lovely animal is Eira barbara). 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Campbell, Jonathan A. 1998. Comments on the identities of certain Tantilla (Squamata: Colubridae) from Guatemala, with descriptions of two new species. Scientific Papers, Natural History Museum, University of Kansas, (7):1-14. - get paper here
  • Heimes, P. 2016. Snakes of Mexico. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 572 pp
  • Johnson, Jerry D.; Vicente Mata-Silva, Elí García Padilla, and Larry David Wilson 2015. The Herpetofauna of Chiapas, Mexico: composition, distribution, and conservation. Mesoamerican Herpetology 2 (3): 272–329. - get paper here
  • Liner, Ernest A. 2007. A CHECKLIST OF THE AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF MEXICO. Louisiana State University Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural Science 80: 1-60 - get paper here
  • Rodríguez-Robles, Javier A., Good, David A., Wake, David B. 2003. Brief History of Herpetology in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, with a List of Type Specimens of Recent Amphibians and Reptiles. UC Publications in Zoology, 119 pp. - get paper here
  • Townsend, Josiah H.; Larry David Wilson, Melissa Medina-Flores, and Luis A. Herrera-B. 2013. A New Species of Centipede Snake in the Tantilla taeniata Group (Squamata: Colubridae) from Premontane Rainforest in Refugio De Vida Silvestre Texíguat, Honduras. Journal of Herpetology Mar 2013, Vol. 47, No. 1: 191-200. - 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.
  • Wilson L D 1983. A new species of Tantilla of the taeniata group from Chiapas, Mexico. Journal of Herpetology 17 (1): 54-59 - get paper here
  • Wilson L D 1990. Tantilla tayrae Wilson. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles ( 479: 1 - get paper here
  • Wilson, L.D. 1999. Checklist and key to the species of the genus Tantilla (Serpentes: Colubridae), with some commentary on distribution. Smithsonian Herp. Inf. Serv. (122): 1-34 - get paper here
  • Wilson, Larry David and Vicente Mata-Silva 2015. A checklist and key to the snakes of the Tantilla clade (Squamata: Colubridae), with comments on distribution and conservation. Mesoamerican Herpetology 2 (4): 418 - get paper here
  • Wilson, Larry David and Vicente Mata-Silva. 2014. Snakes of the genus Tantilla (Squamata: Colubridae) in Mexico: taxonomy, distribution, and Conservation. Mesoamerican Herpetology 1 (1): 5-95 - get paper here
  • Wilson,L.D. & McCranie,J.R. 1999. The systematic status of Honduran populations of the Tantilla taeniata group (Serpentes: Colubridae), with notes on other populations. Amphibia-Reptilia 20 (3): 326-329 - get paper here
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