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Thamnophis copei DUGÈS, 1879

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Higher TaxaColubridae (Natricinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Cope's Mountain Meadow Snake
S: Pradera de Cope 
SynonymAdelophis copei DUGÈS in COPE 1879: 265
Storeria copei — GARMAN 1884: 31
Adelophis copei — DUNN 1931
Adelophis copei — TAYLOR 1942
Adelophis copei — ROSSMAN & BLANEY 1968
Adelophis copei — ROSSMAN & WALLACH 1987
Adelophis copei — LINER 1994
Adelophis copei — WALLACH et al. 2014: 8
Thamnophis copei — HALLAS et al. 2021 
DistributionMexico (Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos)

Type locality: Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Mexico.  
TypesNeotype: MDUG (Mus. Alfredo Duges, Univ. Guanajuato, Mexico, fide SMITH & TAYLOR 1945). Original lost (skull only said to be extant). 
DiagnosisDEFINITION (Adelophis). Adelophis are small (maximum length: 479 mm), moderately slender thamnophine snakes. The head is barely wider than the neck, becoming narrower in the snout region, which is subconical; the crown is strongly arched in profile. The eyes are of moderate size, their diameter ranging from about 15.5-18.5% of head length; the pupil is round. The head scales are generally normal for colubrids (somewhat reduced in copei), usually with 1 or 2 nasals, loreal (none in copei), 1 preocular, 2 postoculars, 1 + 2 temporal (usually 1 + 1 in copei); 5 supralabials, the 4th and 5th equally large (5th much larger in copei), the 3rd and 4th entering the eye; 5 or 6 infralabials. Ventrals number 132-137 in females, 132-139 in males. Subcaudals are divided and number 48-57 in females, 50-64 in males. The anal plate is undivided. Dorsal scales are imbricate, strongly keeled, and slightly notched posteriorly without apical pits. The normal scale row formulas are 17.17.17 (foxi) and 15-15-15 (copei). Tail length constitutes about 19-23% of total length in adult females, 20-25.5% in adult males. The 20-24 maxillary teeth are moderately slender and slightly recurved, decreasing slightly in size posteriorly. In A. foxi (no bones save the maxilla have been examined in A. copei) the dorsal nasal laminae are narrow, lanceolate, and in very narrow contact with the premaxilla. The combined frontal bones are nearly one-third again as long as they are broad. The parietal bone has a well-defined shield that iS very broad posteriorly. The quadrate is greatly expanded dorsally, but the supratemporal is reduced. The prefrontal iS as long as it is high, due to a well-developed anterolateral process. The interorbital foramen is large. The basioccipital process is very low and there is no ventral keel on the parasphenoid, which is extremely narrow. The dorsal pattern consists of (foxi) or 3 (copei) light stripes and 2 (copei) or 4 (foxi) dark stripes on a grayish brown or olive brown ground color. In adult foxi the center and posterior edge of each ventral is corn yellow overlaid with buff, the lateral margins brown like the dorsum; in juveniles the venter appears dull white. Observations on ventral coloration in fresh copei are lacking. The top and sides of the head are similar to the dorsal ground color; the labials (except for the anterior supralabials), chin, and throat are colored like the venter. The everted hemipenis of foxi is single with the distal half greatly expanded (3 times wider than the proximal half). The sulcus spermaticus is simple and terminates apically between raised lips. The apical surface and adjacent apical margin are nude. The remainder of the organ is spinose, the spines being very small on the expanded portion, but becoming larger proximally. One enlarged basal hook is immediately adjacent to the sulcus (this hook lacking in copei); two others are on the opposite side of, and somewhat removed from, the sulcus. In A. foxi (no myological data are available for A. copei) the M. adductor mandibulae externus medialis has a slip originating from the anterior part of the supraoccipital crest. The belly of the M. depressor mandibulae is very broad, and the muscle has a slip that originates from the aponeurosis over the dorsal muscles of the neck. The supraoccipital ligament is lacking. (Rossman & Wallach 1987)

Comparisons (genera): The differences between Adelophis and Tropidoclonion clearly appear to outweigh their similarities (undivided anal plate and general dorsal pattern). The hemipenis of Adelophis is of a generalized natricine type, similar to those of many species of Thamnophis; that of Tropidoclonion is unique among New World natricines in possessing a pair of long apical papillae (see Dowling, 1959, Figure 1B). Adelophis usually exhibits no dorsal scale row reduction, but one apparently aberrant juvenile specimen of A. foxi has the 17-19-17 formula characteristic of Tropidoclonion. In Tropidoclonion the tail is very short and there are relatively few subcaudals (Tropidoclonion: males 34-47, females 24-40; Adelophis: males 50-60, females 51-54). The posterior genials in Tropidoclonion are markedly shorter than the anterior, much more so than in Adelophis foxi (the posterior are longer in A. copei). The crown of the head is relatively flat in Tropidoclonion, arched in Adelophis (for latter see Figure 3). If one assumes a Thamnophis-like ancestor, Tropidoclonion is more specialized than Adelo phis in the condition of the hemipenis, relative tail length, and very short posterior genials, whereas Adelophis is the more specialized in terms of head shape and the absence of dorsal scale fow reduction. There are also numerous osteological differences between the two genera (the information on Adelophis is based, with the exception of the maxilla, entirely on foxi). Adelophis has: the posterior end of the maxillary shaft extending well beyond the ectopterygoid process (the posterior end of the shaft terminates well in advance of the ectopterygoid process in Tropidoclonion; see Figure 5); the dorsal surface of the paired nasals narrow and lanceolate (Tropidoclonion has the broad winglike lateral extensions typical of generalized New World natricines); the maxillary process of the ectopterygoid relatively broad (narrow in Tropidoclonion) ; supratemporal scarce ly longer than upper edge of its articulation with quadrate, not reaching pro-otic-parietal suture (supratemporal twice as long as its articulation with upper edge of quadrate and reaching the suture in Tropidoclonion) ; parasphenoid process extremely narrow (broad in Tropidoclonion); two-thirds the length of the supraoccipital lies posterior to the supraoccipital crests (less than one half the length is posterior to the crests in Tropidoclonion) ; combined frontals nearly one-third again as long as they are broad (only slightly longer than broad in Tropidoclonion); prefrontal height equal to its length (height much exceeds length in Tropidoclonion) ; dorsomedial surface of retro -articular process of compound bone broader than in Tropidoclonion. (Rossman & Blaney 1968)

Comparisons (species): see Adelophis foxi.

DEFINITION (copei). The smaller member (maximum total length: 392 mm) of the genus Adelophis, characterized by: IS-IS-IS dorsal scale rows; absence of a loreal; usually a single secondary temporal; the 5th supralabial much larger than the 4th; 133 ventrals in only known female, 132-138 in males; SO subcaudals in only known female, SO-54 in males; tail 19% of total length in only known female, 20-21% in males; dorsal pattern with 3 pale stripes and 2 dark stripes on an olive brown ground color; 23-24 maxillary teeth. (Rossman & Wallach 1987) 
CommentType species: Adelophis copei DUGÈS in COPE 1879 is the type species of the genus Adelophis DUGÈS in COPE 1879.

Phylogenetics: Hallas et al. 2021 found that Adelophis nests within Thamnophis, hence these authors suggested to synonymize the two genera.

Not listed in Liner 2007. 
EtymologyNamed after Edward Drinker Cope (1840-1897), American herpetologist. See Osborn 1929 and Vetter 2003 for biographical notes.

The genus name Adelophis is derived from the Greek adelos meaning "uncertain, obscure" and ophis meaning "snake"; it refers to Duges' uncertainty as to the taxonomic affinities of this genus. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Castro-Franco, Rubén, María Guasalupe Bustos-Zagal 1994. List of reptiles of Morelos, Mexico, and their distribution in relation to vegetation types. Southwestern Naturalist 39 (2): 171-175 - get paper here
  • Cope, E.D. 1879. Eleventh contribution to the herpetology of tropical America. Proc. Amer. Philos. Soc. 18: 261-277. - get paper here
  • Dunn, E. R. 1931. Some Central American snake genera. Copeia 1931 (4): 163 - get paper here
  • FLORES-VILLELA, OSCAR; CÉSAR A. RÍOS-MUÑOZ, GLORIA E. MAGAÑA-COTA & NÉSTOR L. QUEZADAS-TAPIA 2016. Alfredo Dugès’ type specimens of amphibians and reptiles revisited. Zootaxa 4092 (1): 033–054 - get paper here
  • Garman, Samuel 1884. The reptiles and batrachians of North America. Mem. Mus. comp. Zool, Cambridge (Massachusetts), 8 (3): xxxiv + 185 pp. [1883] [CNAH reprint 10] - get paper here
  • Heimes, P. 2016. Snakes of Mexico. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 572 pp
  • Lemos-Espinal JA, Smith GR 2020. A conservation checklist of the herpetofauna of Morelos, with comparisons with adjoining states. ZooKeys 941: 121-144 - get paper here
  • Leyte-Manrique A, Mata-Silva V, Báez-Montes O, Fucsko LA, DeSantis DL, García-Padilla E, Rocha A, Johnson JD, Porras LW, Wilson LD. 2022. The herpetofauna of Guanajuato, Mexico: composition, distribution, and conservation status. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 16(2) [General Section: 133–180 (e321) - get paper here
  • Osborn, H. F. 1929. Biographical memoir of Edward Drinker Cope 1840-1897. National Academy of Sciences 13: 127-317 (1930?)
  • Rossman D A; Wallach V 1987. Adelophis Duges. Mountain meadow snakes. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles ( 408: 1-2 - get paper here
  • Taylor, Edward H. 1942. Mexican snakes of the genera Adelophis and Storeria. Herpetologica 2 (4): 75-79 - get paper here
  • Vetter, H. 2003. Edward Drinker Cope (1840-1897). Sekretär 3 (2): 21-30 - 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.
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