Friday 25 April 2014

A new species of Blunt-headed Vine Snake from the Chocó region of northwest Ecuador.

Blunt-headed Vine Snakes (Imantodes) are medium sized (roughly meter length) Colubrid Snakes found from Mexico to Argentina. They are immediately recognizable due to their long thin bodies with slender necks and disproportionately large, blunt heads.

In a paper published in the journal ZooKeys on 27 November 2012, a team of scientists led by Omar Torres-Carvajal of the Escuela de Biología at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, describe a new species of Blunt-headed Vine Snake from the Chocó Region of northwestern Ecuador.

The new species is named Imantodes chocoensis, meaning the Blunt-headed Vine Snake from Chocó, or the Chocoan Blunt-headed Vine Snake. The species was detected using physical characteristics, notably the lack of a loreal scale (the middle of three scales on the side of the face between the eye and the nostril in most Snakes), then confirmed as separate species by genetic analysis. Imantodes chocoensis reaches up to 107.5 cm in length. It is brownish in colour, with darker markings on its dorsal (upper) surface. It was found living in the lowland evergreen rainforests of Carchi and Esmeraldas provinces on the northwest coast of Ecuador (the Chocó region) at altitudes of between 115 and 260 m.

A living specimen of Imantodes chocoensis. Torres-Carvajal et al. (2012).

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