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Anilios australis GRAY, 1845

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Higher TaxaTyphlopidae (Asiatyphlopinae), Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Southern Blind Snake 
SynonymAnilios australis GRAY 1845: 135
Onychocephalus verticalis SMITH 1846 (fide STORR 1981)
Typhlops preissi JAN, in JAN & SORDELLI 1860 (fide BOULENGER 1893)
Typhlops preyssi — JAN 1861 (nomen incorrectum)
Onychocephalus macrurus PETERS 1860 (fide BOULENGER 1893 and STORR 1981)
Typhlops australis — BOULENGER 1893: 35
Typhlops verticalis — BOULENGER 1893: 32
Typhlops australis — WAITE 1918: 28
Ramphotyphlops australis — ROBB 1966: 675
Typhlops verticalis — FITZSIMONS 1966
Typhlina australis — MCDOWELL 1974: 35
Ramphotyphlops australis — STORR 1981: 238
Ramphotyphlops australis — COGGER et al. 1983: 195
Ramphotyphlops australis — WELLS & WELLINGTON 1984: 105
Sivadictus australis — WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985: 41
Sivadictus preissi — WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985: 41
Ramphotyphlops australis — MCDIARMID et al. 1999: 57
Ramphotyphlops australis — COGGER 2000: 589
Ramphotyphlops australis — STORR et al. 2002: 18
Ramphotyphlops australis — BRANCH & BAUER 2005
Austrotyphlops australis — WALLACH 2006
Ramphotyphlops australis — WILSON & SWAN 2010: 40
Libertadictus australis — HOSER 2012: 22
Ramphotyphlops australis — MARIN et al. 2013
Libertadictus (Pattersontyphlops) affinis — HOSER 2013: 45
Ramphotyphlops australis — WILSON & SWAN 2013: 438
Anilios australis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 36
Anilios australis — HEDGES et al. 2014
Anilios australis — PYRON & WALLACH 2014
Ramphotyphlops australis — COGGER 2014: 796
Anilios australis — TIATRAGUL et la. 2023 
DistributionAustralia (Western Australia, Northern Territory, Victoria, South Australia)

Type locality: Western Australia (lectotype locality)  
TypesLectotype: BMNH 1946.1.10.61 (designated by COGGER 1983), presented W. Buchanan. Paralectotype: BMNH 1946.1.11.14 (=Anilios endoterus) (by subsequent designation of lectotype Cogger et al. 1983). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus). Species of Anilios have (1) eye, distinct, (2) snout, rounded or beaked (rarely acuminate), (3) head scale arrangement, non-circular, (4) frontorostral, absent, (5) nasal, completely or incompletely divided, (6) nasal suture origin, 2nd supralabial (sometimes 1st, 1/2 suture, 2/preocular suture, or preocular), (7) suboculars or subpreoculars, absent, (8) postoculars, 2 (rarely 1, 3, or 4; average, 2.21), (9) preocular-labial contact, supralabials 2 & 3, (10) midbody scale rows, 16–24 (average, 20.1), (11) scale row reduction, absent (rarely present), (12) total scale rows, 278–750 (average, 466), (13) caudals, 8–36 (average, 15.0), (14) maximum total length, 122–750 (average, 353) mm, (15) total length/midbody diameter, 20–134 (average, 55.8), (16) total length/tail length, 15–112 (average, 49.7), (17) dorsal color, usually brown (sometimes cream, tan, pinkish, grey, or yellowish), (18) ventral color, usually white, cream, or yellowish, (19) dorsum darker than venter, (20) overall, usually patternless or sometimes with longitudinal lines (Tables 1–2); molecular phylogenetic support (Figs. 1–2).

From other genera of Asiatyphlopinae, Anilios differs from Acutotyphlops in lacking a frontorostral and from Cyclotyphlops in having non-circular head scales (versus circular arrangement). It differs from Grypotyphlops in lacking subocular scales. It differs from Asiatyphlops, Cyclotyphlops, Malayotyphlops, Indotyphlops, and Xerotyphlops in having more total scale rows (466 versus 294–367, averages). It differs from other genera except Indotyphlops in having a thin body (TL/MBD = 55.8 versus 35.1–46.6 in those other genera; averages). It differs from Sundatyphlops and Ramphotyphlops in having relatively short tails (TL/TA = 49.7 versus 31.8–33.3). [HEDGES et al. 2014: 33]. For an alternative diagnosis see PYRON & WALLACH 2014: 61.

Diagnosis (australis): A dark, moderately large, stout blind-snake with snout rounded in profile, 22 midbody scale rows, nasal cleft usually proceeding from second labial and extending up to about midway between nostril and rostral, the top of cleft curving forwards (Storr 1981).

Color: Dorsal and dorsolateral surfaces purplish-black in adults (purplish-pink in juveniles), lower surfaces whitish; boundary between dark and pale coloration jagged, owing to lateral scales being either wholly dark or wholly pale.

Description: Waite 1918: 28 
CommentSynonymy: Ramphotyphlops/Onychocephalus macrurus PETERS 1860 has been listed as valid species by BAUER 1995, although he states that it has been regarded as a doubtful species by ROUX-ESTÈVE 1974 and as incertae sedis by HAHN 1980. Onychocephalus bicolor PETERS 1858: 509 (= Ramphotyphlops bicolor) has been removed from the synonymy of R. australis by Rabosky et al. (2004). Gray 1845: 135 also cites himself as using Typhlops australis GRAY 1838, citing “The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror”.

Type species: Anilios australis GRAY 1845: 135 is the type species of the genus Anilios GRAY 1845, by subsequent designation by Stejneger (1904:683).

Taxonomy (genera): Anilios was separated from Ramphotyphlops on the basis of molecular analyses (Hedges et al. 2014; Pyron & Wallach 2014), which recovered Anilios as sister to Acutotyphlops with Ramphotyphlops as outgroup to these. While Acutotyphlops is diagnosable as morphologically distinct from Anilios, the latter genus is not morphologically distinguished from Ramphotyphlops. Pyron and Wallach (2014), who provide the most detailed morphological comparison, diagnose both Ramphotyphlops and Anilios as being distinguished from all other typhlopoids by a protrusible hemipenis, retrocloacal sacs, and absence of a frontorostral and paired prefrontal scales. The remaining characters mentioned for both genera, including both internal and external features, show extensive overlap between the two genera (for a more detailed discussion see SHEA 2015). Note that many Australian species do not have DNA sequences available and thus are only tentatively assigned to Anilios, based on their occurrence on the Australian mainland.

Phylogeny: Tiatragul et al. 2023 presented a phylogeny of the genus Anilios, including a phylogenetic analysis of their biomes.

Distribution: NSW populations have been assigned to Anilios bicolor. 
EtymologyNamed after the Latin adjective australis = southern, referring to either the south or to Australia.

The derivation of the generic name Anilios was not provided by Gray (1845), although Savage and Boundy (2012) suggest it was derived from the Greek ἀν- (lacking) + ἠέλιος (helios, the sun), in reference to the below-ground lifestyle of these snakes. If so, it would be masculine, like Typhlops. Even if it was not derived from these roots (and many of Gray’s names do appear to be meaningless), Gray’s original description suggests a masculine gender for the name. He included six species in the genus. Four of the species names are either genitives (Leachii), based on nouns (ruficauda), or are adjectives that do not differ in termination in male or female gender (australis, nigrescens). The last two names, however, are adjectival, and both were given masculine terminations: ater and squamosus (SHEA 2015). 
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