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Gerrhopilus depressiceps (STERNFELD, 1913)

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Higher TaxaGerrhopilidae, Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Lowland beaked blindsnake 
SynonymTyphlops depressiceps STERNFELD 1913: 384
Typhlops depressiceps — DE ROOIJ 1917: 9
Typhlops monochrus VOGT 1932: 293
Typhlops monochrous — LOVERIDGE 1948: 320 (nomen emendatum)
Typhlops depressiceps — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 98
Gerrhopilus depressiceps — VIDAL et al. 2010
Gerrhopilus depressiceps — WALLACH et al. 2014: 308 
DistributionPapua New Guinea, New Britain [HR 32: 61]

Type locality: “Neuguinea” (STERNFELD 1913)
Type locality: “along Sepik River, New Guinea” (VOGT 1932)  
TypesHolotype: ZMB 23986, possibly lost (Bauer et al. 2002) 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: This species belongs to Gerrhopilus based on the presence of head glands in the centers of the anterior head shields in addition to their anterior margins (McDowell 1974; Wallach 1996b). A relatively robust (adult L/M = 70) species of Gerrhopilus having the unique combination of a rostrate snout with a transverse keel on the ventral margin of the rostral that extends ventral to the rictus, angle of pre-oral snout in lateral aspect horizontal, distinct pupil in the eye, preocular barely covers the anterior margin of the eye in lateral view, longitudinal scale rows 24/22/20, transverse scale rows posterior to the rostral 649–664, supralabial imbrication pattern T-V, subocular scale single, presubocular scale absent, posterior margin of rostral shallowly concave, prefrontals and supraoculars subequal in size to frontal and parietals and interparietal, subcaudal scales 27–30, L/W ratio 57–67, and tail spine oriented ventrally at an angle of 70 ̊ to axis of anteroventral surface of that terminal scale (and, hence, to body axis). Refer to Table 1 for additional diagnostic qualitative and quantitative features.

Comparisons. Gerrhopilus depressiceps may be distinguished from all other members of this genus except G. mcdowelli in having a transverse keel on the ventral margin of the rostral, which gives the snout a beaked appearance in lateral aspect, and in having a posterior reduction of four longitudinal scale rows from head to vent. From that species G. depressiceps is distinct in its greater number of mid-dorsal scale rows (649–664 vs. 431–464 in G. mcdowelli); greater length (188–323 mm vs. 94–199 in G. mcdowelli); narrower body (L/W = 57–67 in G. depressiceps vs. 44–53 in G. mcdowelli); large, transversely expanded apical spine (vs. spine small and needle-like in G. mcdowelli); pre-oral snout oriented horizontally (vs. inclined at 30° from horizontal in G. mcdowelli); and rostral keel pointing directly downward (vs. anteroventrally in G. mcdowelli). 
  • Bauer, A.M., Wallach, V., and Günther, R. 2002. An annotated type catalogue of the scolecophidian, alethinophidian, and macrostomatan snakes in the collection of the Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (ZMB). Mitt. Mus. Naturkunde Berlin 78:157-176. - 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
  • Loveridge, A. 1948. New Guinean reptiles and amphibians in the Museum of Comparative Zoology and United States National Museum. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 101 (2): 305-430. - 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.
  • O'Shea,M. 1996. A Guide to the Snakes of Papua New Guinea. Independent Publishing, Port Moresby, xii + 239 pp. - get paper here
  • Sternfeld, R. 1913. Beiträge zur Schlangenfauna Neuguineas und der benachbarten Inselgruppen. Sber. Ges. naturf. Berlin 1913: 384-388
  • 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
  • Vogt,T. 1932. Beitrag zur Reptilienfauna der ehemaligen Kolonie Deutsch-Neuguinea. Sitzungsber. Gesell. Naturf. Freunde Berlin 5-7: 281-294
  • 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.
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