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Cynisca senegalensis GANS, 1987

IUCN Red List - Cynisca senegalensis - Data Deficient, DD

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Higher TaxaAmphisbaenidae, Amphisbaenia, Lacertoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymCynisca senegalensis GANS 1987: 65
Cynisca senegalensis — GANS 2005: 29
Cynisca senegalensis — TRAPE 2014 
DistributionSenegal, Guinea (Conakry)

Type locality: Parc Niokolo-Koba, Sénègal.  
TypesHolotype: IFAN (unnumbered). 
DiagnosisDIAGNOSIS: Preocular supralabials fused with nasals, but excluded from contact on the dorsal midline by paired "prefrontals" that have broad contact with the rostral. 2 supralabials and 2 infralabials. Mental wide and larger than flanking first infralabials; malars and second infralabials very slightly enlarged. Head bulbous. 278 body annuli; 23 caudal annuli. Midbody segments, 14 dorsal, 7 to 8 ventral. Segments of median ventral row azygous and more than 4 times as wide as long. 9 precloacal pores. Autotomy site at the 7th caudal annulus. (Gans 1987: 65)

DESCRIPTION (Pattern XV): Meristic characters are summarized in table 7. Figures 33 and 10 show views of the head, figure 13 the ventral surface of the cloacal region, figure 12 the segment proportions, as well as the pattern at midbody, figure 15 lateral view of tail and caudal region; figure 6 gives the body proportions. This is a small, relatively slender species of Cynisca. The holotype is a uniform, pale brown dorsally and lighter on the ventral surface. The pigment density increases posteriorly and is greatest on the anterior portion of the tail, specifically on the autotomy annulus. The dorsal pigmentation consists of a very fine speckling of melanocytes expressed within the segments and fading out ventrally. The dorsal surface of the head and of the two to three dorsal half-annuli following thereupon lack obvious pigmentation, as does the chin. The anterior head shields show major fusions. The rostral is relatively sizable and clearly noticeable in dorsal view. It is followed posteriorly by paired prefrontal shields that are unique in the preceding assemblage by excluding the nasals from midline contact. The prefrontals reach from broad contact with the rostral to the transverse prefrontal-frontal suture at the level of the eyes. The nasal is fused with both preocular supralabials. The oculars are large, more or less quadrangular with the corner overlaying the eye representing the ventralmost position. The more posterior portion of the head is covered by the enormous frontal-parietal that is followed posteriorly by the small occipital, though the arrangement of sutures is irregular. The second supralabials are very large and extend to the dorsal surface of the head where they are in broad contact with the anterior portion of the frontal-parietal shield. Posterior to it lie two postsupralabials with a rather small dorsal segment lying dorsal to the posterior one. The remaining portion of the side of the head is occupied by an enormous temporal. The fused head shields occupy the place of the dorsal half of the first two body annuli. The snout is only slightly prognathous and in ventral view the rostral and supralabials are only visible as a narrow crescent. The lower jaw is not markedly inserted in the bulging snout, which is almost twice as wide as high, higher at the preocular region than at the level of the eye. The mental is very wide anteriorly and slightly narrower posteriorly. It is clearly larger than the infralabials. The anterior suture of the second infralabial extends at an angle from the junction of the malars to the lip. The sutures defining the posterior edges of the mental and of the flanking first infralabials crosses the chin at the anterior level of the second infralabials; however, the posterior portion of the mental terminates somewhat anterior to the posterior edges of the first infralabials. This space iS filled by a single wide shield that does extend beyond the edge of the first infralabials, so that it is partly postmental and partly postgenial. It is flanked by two small segments that lie median to the enlarged malars and posterior to the first infralabials. Back of these three median segments lies a second postgenial row of four small segments, the back edge of which aligns with the posterior edge of the second infralabials. The segments of the gular region are slightly reduced in size. The ninth annulus shows the first indication of fusion of the medial segments. The specimen has 278 body annuli from the first segment posterior to the angulus oris up to and including the pore-bearing precloacal rows. The dorsolateral portions of the third through sixth anterior annuli are folded. At midbody an annulus contains 14 always longer than wide dorsal segments and 7 to 8 ventral ones, of which the median ones are azygous and always more than four times as wide as long. The cloacal region corresponds to four lateral annuli. The tail bears 23 caudal annuli to the oval rounded tip which is more than twice the length of the next anterior annulus. Only faint segmental impressions mark its anterior edge. The seventh postcloacal annulus represents the slightly narrowed and more intensely pigmented autotomy site. All subcaudal segments are paired. There are nine strongly indicated precloacal pores, each inserted into the middle of the posterior edge of one of the nine narrowed median segments of the precloacal annulus. This set corresponds to the width of the azygous ventral segments that reach laterally to the edge of the large and rectangular precloacal shield, which is covered by two very large segments. The postcloacal edge is formed of ten irregular segments. The trunk is generally slightly wider than high; however, it becomes rounder posteriorly and then higher than wide just posterior to the cloacal region. The caudal tip forms a distinct vertical oval in section. The lateral sulci start between the seventh and tenth body annuli and at midbody are filled with very tiny triangular segments approximately as wide as one of the flanking segments. For the first 50 or so annuli, the dorsal sulcus is indicated only by alignment of intersegmental sutures; at midbody, it is almost as wide as the lateral ones and continues as a depressed groove onto the tail. There is no ventral sulcus. (Gans 1987: 65) 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality. 
  • Gans C 1987. Studies on amphisbaenians (Reptilia). 7. The small round-headed species (Cynisca) from western Africa. American Museum Novitates (2896): 1-84 - get paper here
  • Gans, C. 2005. CHECKLIST AND BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE AMPHISBAENIA OF THE WORLD. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 289: 1-130 - get paper here
  • Trape, J.F. 2014. Un reptile nouveau du genre Cynisca Gray, 1844, au Sénégal (Squamata, Amphisbaenidae). Bull. Soc. Herp. France 151: 11-20.
  • Trape, J.F.; Mané, Y. 2015. Note sur une collection d’amphisbènes (Squamata, Amphisbaenidae) d’Afrique occidentale. Bull. Soc. Herp. France 154 : 35-60
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