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Cathetorhinus melanocephalus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON, 1844

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Higher TaxaGerrhopilidae, Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Common Names 
SynonymCathetorhinus melanocephalus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1844: 270
Typhlops (Typhlina) melanocephalus - JAN 1860
Typhlops (Cathetorhinus) melanocephalus - JAN 1863: 10
Typhlops melanocephalus - BOULENGER 1893: 15
Typhlops melanocephalus (incertae sedis) — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 126
Cathetorhinus melanocephalus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 148
Ramphotyphlops melanocephalus — HEDGES et al. 2014
Cathetorhinus melanocephalus — PYRON & WALLACH 2014 
DistributionPossibly from Mauritius, but see comment

Type locality: "Nous ignorons la patrie de ce Scolecophide" [Unknown].  
TypesHolotype: MNHN 0138, adult male 
CommentMay belong to Rhinotyphlops (Wallach, pers. comm.), but formal reassignment has yet to be published. Cathetorhinus (and therefore C. melanocephalus) has already been synonymized with Rhinotyphlops by ROUX-ESTÈVE 1974.

Distribution: Wallach and Pauwels (2008) commented that “the provenance of this species remains unknown: it is certainly Old World, and may be from (in order of probability) Timor, Australia, Mauritius or Tenerife”; Cheke (2011) discussed an origin from Mauritius.

Type species: Cathetorhinus melanocephalus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1844: 270 is the type species of the genus Cathetorhinus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1844.Cathetorhinus melanocephalus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1844: 270 is also the type species of the genus Ramphotyphlops DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1844.

Diagnosis. Cathetorhinus can be distinguished from all other typhlopoids by the combination of a T-II SIP and
absence of preocular (fused with nasal). Small-sized (total length 183 mm), slender-bodied (length/width ratio 92) snakes with 18 scale rows throughout, 525 total middorsals, moderate tail (2.7% of total length) with 20 subcaudals (length/width ratio 2.5), and minute apical spine. Dorsal head profile bluntly rounded, lateral profile pointed with a ventral rostral keel that terminates in a blunt point, large oval rostral (0.71 head width), eye discernible as a faint eyespot, and postocular single. Coloration of head in preservative is blackish-brown, dorsum tan with lighter venter [PYRON & WALLACH 2014: 44] 
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Cheke, A. 2010. Is the enigmatic blind-snake Cathetorhinus melanocephalus (Serpentes: Typhlopidae) an extinct endemic species from Mauritius?. Hamadryad 35 (1):101-104 - get paper here
  • Duméril, A. M. C. and G. Bibron. 1844. Erpetologie Générale ou Histoire Naturelle Complete des Reptiles. Vol.6. Libr. Encyclopédique Roret, Paris, 609 pp. - get paper here
  • Hedges, S.B., Marion, A.B., Lipp, K.M., Marin, J. & Vidal, N. 2014. A taxonomic framework for typhlopid snakes from the Caribbean and other regions (Reptilia, Squamata). Caribbean Herpetology 49: 1–61 - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1860. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 1. Livraison. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Jan,G. 1863. Elenco Sistematico degli Ofidi descriti e disegnati per l'Iconografia Generale. Milano, A. Lombardi. vii + 143 pp.
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • Pyron, R.A. & Wallach, V. 2014. Systematics of the blindsnakes (Serpentes: Scolecophidia: Typhlopoidea) based on molecular and morphological evidence. Zootaxa 3829 (1): 001–081
  • Roux-Estève, R. 1974. Révision systématique des Typhlopidae d'Afrique. Reptilia. Serpentes. Mém. nation. Hist. nat., Paris, (sér.A.) 87: 1-313
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
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