Monday, June 23, 2014

Is Chironius scurrulus part of the Trinidad herpetofauna?

In 1993 Dixon et al. reported on a specimen of Chironius scurrulus from Trinidad. The specimen, UMMZ 43965 is a juvenile that was collected by E. B. Williamson, an insect collector at the turn of the 20th century (winter 1912). Wagler’s Sipo as it is sometimes called inhabits Brazil, SE Colombia, N Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, E Peru, Trinidad, Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana according to the Reptile Database website, and probably has a type locality of Rio Japura, Brazil (based on comments in Kornacker 1999). Boos (2001) also reported this species as part of the Trinidad herpetofauna, following the previous authors.

The UMMZ specimen of Chironius scurrulus said to be from Trinidad
Recently I visited the UMMZ and examined the specimen of Chironius scurrulus, it is undoubtedly that species, but there is evidence to suggest it did not come from Trinidad.  Also collected by Williamson that winter on Trinidad were some Rhinella marina, Hypsiboas crepitans, Mannophryne trinitatis, and several specimens of the stream toad, Atelopus hoogmoedi. The last species is of course unknown from Trinidad – but it is known from Guyana, the other country visited by Williamson during the winter of 1912. Given the low probability of picking up the only known specimen of Chironius scurrulus and the only known specimens of Atelopus hoogmoedi from Trinidad on one trip, it seems likely that the specimens were instead collected in Guyana and at some point mislabeled as to their origins.

I would like to thank Greg Schneider at the UMMZ for searching the archives for information on these specimens, and to César Luis Barrio-Amorós, J. Roger Downie, and Joanna Smith for their perspectives into these records.

Boos, H.E.A. 2001. The snakes of Trinidad and Tobago. Texas A&M University Press, 270 pp.

Dixon, J. R., Wiest Jr, J. A., & Cei, J. M. 1993. Revision of the neotropical snake genus Chironius Fitzinger Serpentes, Colubridae. Torino: Museo regionale di scienze naturali.

Photos needed for the next Trinidad & Tobago Field Guide

We are making progress on the Trinidad and Tobago Field Guide and the goal to to have it ready for copy editing by the end of 2014. The extended dry season of 2014 has made it difficult to find animals and we still are looking for photos of  species we don't have represented. While it is improbable we will find live specimens of species known from a single specimen or just a few specimens we are looking for the best photography we can find. We are also looking for the best photography of Trinidad and Tobago specimens - that is we would rather have photos of specimens from the islands than from the mainland or other islands if at all possible.

So the following is a list of species we still need, or we need better photos than the ones we have. If you have photos that you are willing to let us use - send me (JCM) an email at:

Leptodactylus nesiotus, Pristimantis turpinorum, Mesoclemmys gibba, Anolis extremus, Anolis trinitatis, Anolis wattsi, Kentropyx striata, Drymarchon corais, Leptophis stimsoni,, Tantilla melanocephala Erythrolamprus cobella, Erythrolamprus ocellatus, Hydrops triangularis, Thamnodynastes ramonriveroi, Micrurus circinalis, Micrurus lemniscatus diutius, Lachesis muta. 

If you have great photos of other species we are interested.