Saturday, December 1, 2012

[Herpetology • 2012] Imantodes chocoensis | Chocoan blunt-headed vine snake • A new species of blunt-headed vine snake (Colubridae: Dipsadinae, Imantodes) from the Chocó region of Ecuador

Chocoan blunt-headed vine snakes | Cordoncillos del Chocó 
Imantodes chocoensis Torres-Carvajal, Yánez-Muñoz, Quirola, Smith & Almendáriz 2012 
Photo by Omar Torres-Carvajal

We describe a new species of Imantodes from the Chocó region of northwestern Ecuador. The new species differs most significantly from all other congeners in lacking a loreal scale. We analyze the phylogenetic relationships among species of Imantodes based on two mitochondrial genes, and postulate that the new species and Imantodes lentiferus are sister taxa. A key to the species of Imantodes from Ecuador is presented. 
Keywords: Chocó, Dipsadinae, Ecuador, Imantodes, snakes, systematics

Etymology. The specific epithet chocoensis is an adjective derived from Chocó, the very humid tropical region comprising the Pacific coast of northern Ecuador, Colombia and Panama (Morrone 2001). This region is part of the 274, 597 Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena hotspot as defined by Conservation International, which includes more than 320 species of reptiles.

Distribution and ecology. Imantodes chocoensis inhabits Chocoan rainforests on the Pacific coast in northern Ecuador (Fig. 6). It occurs in lowland evergreen forest (Cerón et al. 1999) at elevations of 115–260 m in the provinces of Carchi and Esmeraldas. This new species has been collected in sympatry with Imantodes cenchoa in Esmeraldas, and most likely also shares its distribution with Imantodes inornatus. Other colubrid snakes collected in Tobar Donoso (Carchi) are Chironius grandisquamis, Clelia clelia, Dendrophidion clarkii, Leptophis ahaetulla, Mastigodryas sp., Ninia atrata, Oxyrhopus petola, Pseustes shropshirei, Sibon nebulatus, Synophis bicolor, Tantilla melanocephala, and Xenodon rabdocephalus. The known localities of Imantodes chocoensis lie in close proximity to the Ecuador-Colombia border and we expect for it to be found in neighboring Colombia.

Torres-Carvajal O, Yánez-Muñoz MH, Quirola D, Smith EN, Almendáriz A. 2012. A new species of blunt-headed vine snake (Colubridae, Imantodes) from the Chocó region of Ecuador. ZooKeys 244: 91. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.244.3950
Andrés F. Jaramillo-Martínez, Alejandro Valencia-Zuleta and Fernando Castro-Herrera. 2013.  Imantodes chocoensis Torres-Carvajal, Yánez-Muñoz, Quirola, Smith, and Almendáriz, 2012 (Squamata: Dipsadidae): First records from Colombia. Check List. 9(5): 1070–1071. 

New Species of Ecuadorean Vine Snake Described
Imantodes chocoensis hails from the Chocoan forests of northwestern Ecuador.

Long and thin with a big head: new snake adds diversity to a bizarre group (photo)