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Tantilla tecta CAMPBELL & SMITH, 1997

IUCN Red List - Tantilla tecta - Data Deficient, DD

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: White-Striped Centipede Snake 
SynonymTantilla tecta CAMPBELL & SMITH 1997
Tantilla tecta — WILSON 1999
Tantilla tecta — LEE 2000: 342f
Tantilla tecta — WALLACH et al. 2014: 706 
DistributionNE Guatemala

Type locality: slope flanking the NE side of Laguna Yaxhá, Petén, Guatemala (17° 03’ 43’’ N, 89° 23’ 12’’ W).  
TypesHolotype: UTA R-41160 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A small species of Tantilla of the taeniata group (sensu Wilson, 1983) that may be distinguished from all other members of the genus by having: a narrow pale middorsal line restricted to the vertebral scale row; a narrow pale lateral line on adjacent portions of the third and fourth scale rows that extends onto the tail; a broad pale collar that is not interrupted medially; and 54 subcaudals in the single known specimen. In T. briggsi, T. cuesta, T. cuniculator, and T. tayrae the pale middorsal line is absent or restricted to a few scales on the anterior portion of the body, and in T. taeniata the middorsal stripe usually is expanded laterally to include all of the vertebral scale row and adjacent portions of the paravertebral rows. Tantilla taeniata can also be distinguished from T. tecta by the pale coloration on the top of the head which is distinctly paler than the dark borders of the nuchal collar. The dorsum of the head in T tecta, in contrast, is about the same as the borders of the collar. Tantilla flavilineata, T oaxacae, and T. reticulata differ from T. tecta in having a broader pale lateral stripe located on the fourth dorsal scale row and adjacent portions of the third and fifth rows. Tantilla tecta differs from all species in the taeniata group except T. jani and T. slavensi in having a narrow pale middorsal line confined to the vertebral scale row. Tantilla jani differs from T tecta in having less distinct pale lateral stripes that usually terminate on the posterior part of the body; a pale collar that includes the posterior portions of the parietals, posterior temporals, and ultimate supralabial; a pale postocular spot that includes the lingual margin of the fifth supralabial; the first pair of infralabials usually in contact; 37-47 subcaudals in females; and a relative tail length from 15 to 18% of the total length (versus 23% in female holotype of T. tecta). Tantilla slavensi may be distinguished from T. tecta in having part of the paraventral scale row pale (versus ground color from dorsum extending onto ventrals); a pale nuchal collar that is interrupted medially (versus not interrupted) and no more than one scale in length (versus two); a pale lateral line that becomes obscure on the base of the tail (versus evident even on distal portion of tail); the pale lateral line with a narrow dark brown border above, but not distinctly bordered below (versus a distinct dark border below pale lateral line which is darker than the border above); and 158-159 ventrals in two known females (versus 148 in single female). A higher number of ventrals is present in females of T. flavilineata (152—164) and T. reticulata (162-173) than in T tecta (148), whereas slightly lower numbers are present in females of T. oaxaca (145), T. tayrae (140-146), and T. cuesta (147). A higher number of subcaudals is present in females of T. taeniata (58-65) and T. reticulata (58-70), and fewer subcaudals are present in females of T. flavilineata (43-49), T.jani (37-47), T striata (31-34), T. oaxacae (48), T. cuniculator (48-53), T. tayrae (44-46), and T. cuesta (45) than in T. tecta (54). Undoubtedly, as many of these species become known from more adequate samples, the ranges for some segmental counts will overlap. 
CommentTantilla tecta is most similar to T. jani of the Pacific versant of northern Middle America and to T. slavensi of the Tuxtla region of southern Veracruz, Mexico, but may be differentiated from these species by the condition of the pale lateral stripes on the body, the extent of the pale nuchal collar, the coloration of the paraventral scale row, the number of ventrals and subcaudals, and relative tail length. 
  • Aguilar-López JL, Luría-Manzano R, Pineda E, Canseco-Márquez L 2021. Selva Zoque, Mexico: an important Mesoamerican tropical region for reptile species diversity and conservation. ZooKeys 1054: 127-153 - get paper here
  • Campbell, J.A. 1998. Amphibians and reptiles of northern Guatemala, the Yucatán, and Belize. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, xiii + 380 pp. - get paper here
  • Campbell,J.A. & Smith,E. N. 1997. A new species of Tantilla (Serpentes: Colubridae) from northeastern Guatemala. Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington 110 (3): 332-337 - get paper here
  • Lee, J. C. 2000. A field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of the Maya world. Cornell University Press, Ithaca,
  • Stafford, P.J. 2004. A new speciesof Tantilla (Serpentes; Colubridae) of the taeniata group from Southern Belize. Journal of Herpetology 38 (1): 43-52 - 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, 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,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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