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Black Gap Alterna - Signature Features

Signature Feature 1
Broad white banding. Ask any collector what the first feature that comes to mind that set Black Gap alterna aside from other populations and they will most likely mention broad, white banding.

Signature Feature 2
White "halo" effect. This is a dynamic feature where as the animal matures the white banding grows in width and  expands into the gray background and into the primaries creating soft edges and giving some animals a very pale appearance. The halo effect can make some animals appear as if the entire animal is "out of focus" without sharply definable edges.  The halo effect occurs on both light and dark phase alterna and blairs morphs. There have been animals where the halo effect is so pronounced that the normally gray background is mostly obscured and the animal appears ghostly white. This is one of the most unusual color features seen in any alterna.

Signature Feature 3
Bat wing (also called bow ties, hourglasses, butterflies, etc.) orange primaries. These primaries can be very constricted dorsally - to the point of being split into two separate parts or they can be very gently constricted with barely indented north - south borders.

Signature Feature 4
Ashen head. Many, if not most, alterna from Black Gap exhibit very light, ash colored heads as adults. This signature feature is most easily noted on medium to dark phase individuals. When extreme, this can be a rather elegant feature.

Signature Feature 5
Donuts, erasures and shot gunned orange can occur in many alterna localities on rare occasion but in Black Gap they are more standard issue. Just to be contrary, bright, broad saddled individuals with very uniform orange turn up with surprising regularity also.

Signature Feature 6
Simple recessives; hypomelanism and anerythristic. I am hesitant to include these traits as signature features but the population does seem to have an unusually high incidence of these features evident in the Black Gap population.

Signature Feature 7
Window alternates. This trait is rarely seen outside of Black Gap population. It usually occurs in alternates in the mid-body to tail region. The trait produces a nearly round, open "window" which allows the background gray to show through. This ornate trait is very desirable with collectors.

Signature Feature 8
Radical ontogenetic change in gray, orange and white.  We sometimes see this in other localities as well but Black Gap alterna take this trait to extremes. Mature, adult forms of  juveniles are so different that it is difficult to believe that you are looking at one and the same snake.

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