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Gerrhopilus ater (SCHLEGEL, 1839)

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Higher TaxaGerrhopilidae, Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Black blindsnake 
SynonymTyphlops ater SCHLEGEL 1839: 39
Typhlops (Gerrhopilus) ater — FITZINGER 1843: 24
Typhlops ater — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1844: 312
Anilios ater — GRAY 1845: 136
Typhlops (Typhlops) ater — JAN 1863: 11
Typhlops ater — BOULENGER 1893: 53
Typhlops ater — BOULENGER 1897: 217
Typhlops ater — DE ROOIJ 1917: 13
Typhlops ater ater BRONGERSMA 1934
Typhlops ater — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 91
Typhlops ater — LANG & VOGEL 2005
Gerrhopilus ater — VIDAL et al. 2010
Typhlops ater — KOCH 2012
Gerrhopilus ater — DE LANG 2013
Gerrhopilus ater — WALLACH et al. 2014: 307
Gerrhopilus ater — WYNN 2021 
DistributionIndonesia (Java, Ternate, Sulawesi, Irian Jaya, Bali [HR 27: 155]), Papua New Guinea (Vogelkop Peninsula and adjacent islands)

Type locality: Java, Indonesia  
TypesHolotype: RMNH 3714 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): presence of gland-like structures ‘peppered’ over the scales of the head (minimally the rostral and nasals, but often other scales on the head and chin). A divided preocular and/or ocular is common and all species have overlap
of the preocular (or subpreocular when present) by the second supralabial (except G. tindalli).

Diagnosis (genus). Gerrhopilus can be distinguished from all other typhlopoids by the numerous distinct sebaceous glands (cephalic papillae) covering the head shields (not just beneath the sutures at the base of head shields as in all other typhlopoids). Small to moderate-sized (total length 87–331 mm), moderate-bodied (length/width ratio 17–89) snakes with 16–28 scale rows (usually without reduction), total middorsals 190–780, short to long tail (1.5–5.1% total length) with 9–29 subcaudals (length/width ratio 1.0–4.0), and with or without an apical spine. Dorsal and lateral head profile either rounded or pointed, sometimes with a ventral beak, sagittate rostral narrow to moderate (0.26–0.63 head width), nasals usually in contact behind rostral or overlapping one another, preocular in contact with subocular or second and third supralabials, eye present as a dark spot or small eye with distinct pupil, subocular often present, T-II or T-V SIP, and postoculars 1–4. Lateral tongue papillae present; left lung absent, tracheal lung unicameral or paucicameral (with 8–35 pockets), cardiac and right lungs unicameral; testes unsegmented; hemipenis eversible, lacking retrocloacal sacs; rectal caecum small (0.2–4.4% SVL), and rarely absent. Coloration of dorsum uniformly brown, reddish-brown, chocolate-brown or black; venter normally lighter, usually golden brown, light brown or tan; snout, supralabials, chin, cloacal region and/or tail tip white or yellow [fide PYRON & WALLACH 2014: 43] 
CommentType species: Typhlops ater SCHLEGEL 1839 is the type species of the genus Gerrhopilus FITZINGER.

Synonymy: Kaiser et al. 2013 considered the generic names Billmacordus Hoser 2012, Cyrilhoserus Hoser 2012 invalid and rejected their use instead of Gerrhopilus. Wynn 2021 removed Typhlops ater suturalis BRONGERSMA 1934: 195 from the synonymy of G. ater.

Type genus: Gerrhopilus is also the type genus of the family Gerrhopilidae VIDAL, WYNN, DONNELLAN & HEDGES 2010.

Phylogenetics: for a phylogenetic analysis of Gerrhopilus species and the rest of Typhopidae, see Sidharthan & Karanth 2021 who show that the species of Gerrhopilus are highly divergent genetically, so that each species could be a separate genus. 
EtymologyNamed after its color, Latin “ater, atra, atrum” = dark or black. 
  • Bosch, H A J. in den & Ineich I. 1994. The Typhlopidae of Sulawesi (Indonesia): A review with description of a new genus and a new species (Serpentes: Typhlopidae). Journal of Herpetology 28 (2): 206-217 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1897. A catalogue of the reptiles and batrachians of Celebes with special reference to the collections made by Drs P & F Sarasin in 1893-1896. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1897: 193-237 [p228-237: batrachia] - get paper here
  • Brongersma,L.D. 1934. Contributions to Indo-Australian herpetology. Zoologische Mededelingen 17: 161-251 - get paper here
  • de Rooij, N. DE 1917. The Reptiles of the Indo-Australian Archipelago. Il. Ophidia. Leiden (E. J. Brill), xiv + 334 S. - 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
  • Dundee, Harold A. 1996. Geographic Distribution. Typhlops ater. Herpetological Review 27 (3): 155 - get paper here
  • Fitzinger, L. 1843. Systema Reptilium, fasciculus primus, Amblyglossae. Braumüller et Seidel, Wien: 106 pp. - get paper here
  • Gray, J. E. 1845. Catalogue of the specimens of lizards in the collection of the British Museum. Trustees of die British Museum/Edward Newman, London: xxvii + 289 pp. - get paper here
  • Hoser, R.T. 2012. A review of the extant scolecophidians (“blindsnakes”) including the formal naming and diagnosis of new tribes, genera, subgenera, species and subspecies for divergent taxa. Australasian J. Herpetol. 15: 1–64. - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1863. Elenco Sistematico degli Ofidi descriti e disegnati per l'Iconografia Generale. Milano, A. Lombardi. vii + 143 pp. - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1864. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 3. Livraison. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris - get paper here
  • Kaiser, H.; Crother, B.I.; Kelly, C.M.R.; Luiselli, L.; O’Shea, M.; Ota, H.; Passos, P.; Schleip, W.D. & Wüster, W. 2013. Best Practices: In the 21st Century, Taxonomic Decisions in Herpetology are Acceptable Only When Supported by a Body of Evidence and Published via Peer-Review. Herpetological Review 44 (1): 8-23
  • Koch, A. 2012. Discovery, Diversity, and Distribution of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Sulawesi and its offshore islands. Edition Chimaira, 374 pp. [ISBN 978-3-89973-432-4] - get paper here
  • Kraus, Fred 2005. New species of blindsnake from Rossel Island, Papua New Guinea. Journal of Herpetology 39 (4): 591-59 - get paper here
  • Lang, Ruud de 2013. The snakes of the Moluccas (Maluku), Indonesia. Edition Chimaira, 417 pp. - get paper here
  • Lang, Ruud de 2017. The Snakes of Java, Bali and Surrounding Islands. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 435 pp. - get paper here
  • Lang, Ruud de & G. Vogel 2005. The snakes of Sulawesi. A field guide to the land snakes of Sulawesi with identification keys. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurter Beiträge zur Naturkunde, 25, Frankfurt am Main, 312 pp.
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • Müller,F. 1895. Reptilien und Amphibien aus Celebes. (II. Bericht). Verh. naturf. Ges. Basel 10: 862-869 - get paper here
  • O'Shea,M. 1996. A Guide to the Snakes of Papua New Guinea. Independent Publishing, Port Moresby, xii + 239 pp. - get paper here
  • Pyron, R.A. & Wallach, V. 2014. Systematics of the blindsnakes (Serpentes: Scolecophidia: Typhlopoidea) based on molecular and morphological evidence. Zootaxa 3829 (1): 001–081 - get paper here
  • Schlegel, H. 1839. Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien, nach der Natur oder dem Leben entworfen und mit einem erläuternden Texte begleitet. Arne and Co., Düsseldorf, xiv + 141 pp. - get paper here
  • Sidharthan, Chinta, and K Praveen Karanth 2021. India’s Biogeographic History through the Eyes of Blindsnakes- Filling the Gaps in the Global Typhlopoid Phylogeny. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 157: 107064 - get paper here
  • Vidal, Nicolas; Julie Marin, Marina Morini, Steve Donnellan, William R. Branch, Richard Thomas, Miguel Vences, Addison Wynn, Corinne Cruaud and S. Blair Hedges 2010. Blindsnake evolutionary tree reveals long history on Gondwana. Biology Letters 6: 558–561 - get paper here
  • Wallach, V. 1996. Two new Blind snakes of the Typhlops ater species group from Papua new Guinea (Serpentes: Typhlopidae). Russ. J. Herpetol. 3 (2):107-118. - 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.
  • Wynn, A. H. 2021. A new species of Gerrhopilus (family: Gerrhopilidae), with comments on the taxonomic status of Gerrhopilus ater suturalis (Brongersma). The Anatomical Record, 304(10): 2243-2248 - get paper here
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