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Epacrophis drewesi (WALLACH, 1996)

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Higher TaxaLeptotyphlopidae, Leptotyphlopinae, Epacrophini, Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Drewes’ worm snake 
SynonymLeptotyphlops drewesi WALLACH 1996
Leptotyphlops drewesi — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 28
Leptotyphlops drewesi — BROADLEY & WALLACH 2007: 19
Epacrophis drewesi — WALLACH et al. 2014: 275
Epacrophis drewesi — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 365 

Type locality: northern base of Mount Kenya, 10 km south of Isiolo, Eastern Region, Kenya (0°21’N, 37°35’E, elevation ca. 1400 m).  
TypesHolotype: CAS 85756 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A member of the Leptotyphlops reticulatus species group, differing from both other species in its small bulbous rostral, high middorsal count (248 vs 179–192 and 227–238 respectively) and colouration. (Broadley & Wallach 2007)

Description. Body cylindrical, with head and neck broadened and flattened, the short tail tapers abruptly to a large thorn-like apical spine, recurved ventrally.
Snout rounded, rostral narrow (0.33 head width) and short, subequal in width to nasals anteriorly, but slightly bulbous and protruding, not reaching interocular level posteriorly. Behind rostral, upper lip bordered by small infranasal (nostril midway between rostral and supralabial along nasal suture), moderate anterior supralabial that extends dorsally beyond level of the nostril with a width along lip twice that of infranasal, large ocular with a moderate eye with a distinct pupil near the upper anterior edge, and moderate posterior supralabial. Supraoculars pentagonal, anteriorly wedged between upper nasal and ocular, posteriorly wedged between a subequal hexagonal frontal and pentagonal postfrontal, interparietal absent, interoccipital much larger than the frontal and postfrontal. Parietals transverse, in contact with the posterior supralabials, subequal to the enlarged occipitals, which are in contact medially. Temporal single. No mental.
Body covered with 14 rows of smooth, imbricate scales, the vertebral row slightly enlarged, reduced to 10 rows on tail. Total middorsals 248, subcaudals 26.
Total length/diameter ratio 41; total length/tail length ratio 11.9.
Bicoloured, with five light brown middorsal scale rows, a midlateral lightly pigmented row and seven immaculate creamy-white ventral rows, a light nuchal collar (ca. 2 scales wide), broken on the vertebral line, lower snout and upper lip white. (Broadley & Wallach 2007)

Size. Length of holotype 131 + 12 = 143 mm, midbody diameter 3.5 mm. (Broadley & Wallach 2007) 
CommentLeptotyphlops drewesi n. sp. is distinguishable from all Leptotyphlops by the absence of an interparietal shield. It appears to be most closely related to L. boulengeri, an insular species off the Kenya coast. The two species form the L. boulengeri species group, which is separable from the L. longicaudus species group by the presence of an anterior supralabial of medium height and a large thorn-like apical spine (vs. a tall anterior supralabial and small needle-like spine).

Habitat: the ecotone between the semi-arid steppe of the Somali Arid zone and the wooded and open grassland of northern Mount Kenya, 14 m. This consists of steep slopes with short grasses and scattered low thorn trees (Acacia). 
EtymologyDedicated to Robert C. Drewes, curator of the Department of Herpetology at the California Academy of Sciences. 
  • Adalsteinsson, S.A.; Branch, W.R.; Trapé, S.; Vitt, L.J. & Hedges, S.B. 2009. Molecular phylogeny, classification, and biogeography of snakes of the Family Leptotyphlopidae (Reptilia, Squamata). Zootaxa 2244: 1-50 - get paper here
  • Broadley, Donald G. & Wallach, V. 2007. A revision of the genus Leptotyphlops in northeastern Africa and southwestern Arabia (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae). Zootaxa 1408: 1–78 - get paper here
  • Hahn D. E. & V. WALLACH, 1998. Comments on the systematics of Old World Leptotyphlops (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae), with description of a new species. Hamadryad 23: 50-62 - get paper here
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • Spawls, S.; Howell, K.; Drewes, R.C. & Ashe, J. 2002. A field guide to the reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, 543 pp. [reviews in HR 34: 396 and Afr. J. Herp. 51; 147] - get paper here
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Wallach,V. 1996. Leptotyphlops drewesi n. sp., a worm snake from central Kenya (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae). Journal of African Zoology 110 (6): 425-431
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