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Gracililima nyassae (GÜNTHER, 1888)

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Colubroidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Black File Snake, Dwarf File Snake
G: Schwarze Feilenschlange 
SynonymSimocephalus nyassae GÜNTHER 1888: 328
Simocephalus nyassae — BOULENGER 1893: 347
Gonionotophis degrijsi WERNER 1906: 53
Mehelya nyassae — BROADLEY 1959
Mehelya nyassae — RASMUSSEN 1981: 176
Mehelya nyassae — AUERBACH 1987: 158
Mehelya nyassae — BOYCOTT 1992
Mehelya nyassae — BROADLEY 1998
Gonionotophis nyassae — KELLY et al. 2011
Mehelya nyassae — WALLACH et al. 2014: 425
Gonionotophis nyassae — BATES et al. 2014: 361
Gonionotophis nyassae — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 409
Gracililima nyassae — BROADLEY et al. 2018
Gonionotophis nyassae — CHIPPAUX & JACKSON 2019: 215 
DistributionZimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, NE Republic of South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Zambia, N/S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), S Somalia

Type locality: Lake Nyassa.

degrijsi: Type locality: Usambara Mountains, Tanzania.  
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesType: BMNH 1946.1.14.52.
Syntypes: ZMB 18815, 18816, female, male [degrijsi] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Maxillary and dentary bones bent inwards anteriorly; the 7 or 8 anterior maxillary teeth increasing in size posteriorly and followed after a diastema by 16–18 very small teeth; anterior mandibular teeth increasing in size posteriorly, the ninth or tenth largest. Head distinct from the neck, depressed; eye moderate, with vertically elliptical pupil; nostril very large. Body subtriangular; scales simply keeled, without apical pits, in 15 scale rows at midbody, those of the vertebral series enlarged and bicarinate; ventrals 164–183, with a lateral keel. Tail moderate, subcaudals paired (55–78). Hypapophyses developed throughout the vertebral column. Hemipenis bifurcating at subcaudal scale 6–7. Sequence divergence of Gracililima differs from other file snake genera by 2.1–5.0% for 16S, 10.7–13.0% for cyt b, and 0.7–1.3% for c-mos. Gracililima forms a polytomy with clades Mehelya and Gonionotophis.

Diagnosis. A small species with 15 scale rows throughout the length of the body; dorsal scales imbricate, with a strong median keel and short apical keels laterally; ventrals 164-177 in males, 170-193 in females; subcaudals 62-78 in males, 54-74 in females; eye small to moderate in size; supralabials usually seven, the third and fourth entering the orbit. Uniform dark brown to black above, venter brown, white or mottled [LANZA & BROADLEY 2014] 
CommentType species: Simocephalus nyassae GÜNTHER 1888: 328 is the type species of the genus Gracililima BROADLEY et al. 2018. 
EtymologyGracili-lima (Latin = slender + file). The name is in the feminine form. 
References
  • Auerbach, R.D. 1987. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Botswana. Mokwepa Consultants, Botswana, 295 pp.
  • Bates, M.F.; Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M.; Burger, M., Marais, J.; Alexander, G.J. & de Villliers, M.S. (eds.) 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, 512 pp.
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Boycott, R.C. 1992. An Annotated Checklist of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Swaziland. The Conservation Trust of Swaziland - get paper here
  • Branch, William R. 1993. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 144 S.
  • Broadley, D. & Blaylock 2013. The Snakes of Zimbabwe and Botswana. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 387 pp. [book review in Sauria 35 (2): 59 and Copeia 2014: 388] - get paper here
  • Broadley, D. G. & HOWELL, K. M. 1991. A check list of the reptiles of Tanzania, with synoptic keys. Syntarsus 1: 1—70
  • Broadley, D.G. 1959. The herpetology of Southern Rhodesia. Part I--the snakes. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 120 (1): 1-100 [reprint 1972] - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. 1962. On some reptile collections from the North-Western and North-Eastern Districts of Southern Rhodesia 1958-1961, with descriptions of four new lizards. Occ. Pap. Nat. Mus. South. Rhodesia 26 (B): 787-843
  • Broadley, D.G. 1998. The reptilian fauna of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa). In: Schmidt, K.P. and Noble, G.K., Contributions to the Herpetology of the Belgian Congo... [reprint of the 1919 and 1923 papers]. SSAR Facsimile reprints in Herpetology, 780 pp.
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  • Broadley, Donald G.; Krystal A. Tolley, Werner Conradie, Sarah Wishart, Jean-François Trape, Marius Burger, Chifundera Kusamba, Ange-Ghislain Zassi-Boulou & Eli Greenbaum 2018. A phylogeny and genus-level revision of the African file snakes Gonionotophis Boulenger (Squamata: Lamprophiidae). African Journal of Herpetology, DOI: 10.1080/21564574.2018.1423578 - get paper here
  • Chippaux, Jean-Philippe & Kate Jackson 2019. Snakes of Central and Western Africa. Johns Hopkins University Press, 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Günther,A. 1888. Contribution to the knowledge of snakes of tropical Africa. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (6) 1: 322-335 - get paper here
  • Hallermann, J. 2007. The status of problematic snake types of the Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Reptilia, Serpentes). Mitt. Mus. Nat.kd. Berl., Zool. Reihe 83 (2): 160–165
  • Herrmann, H.-W.; W.R. Branch 2013. Fifty years of herpetological research in the Namib Desert and Namibia with an updated and annotated species checklist. Journal of Arid Environments 93: 94–115 - get paper here
  • Kelly, Christopher M.R.; William R. Branch, Donald G. Broadley, Nigel P. Barker, Martin H. Villet 2011. Molecular systematics of the African snake family Lamprophiidae Fitzinger, 1843 (Serpentes: Elapoidea), with particular focus on the genera Lamprophis Fitzinger 1843 and Mehelya Csiki 1903. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 58(3): 415-426 - get paper here
  • Lanza, B. 1983. A list of the Somali amphibians and reptiles. MONITORE ZOOLOGICO ITALIANO, new Ser., SUPPL. 18 (8): 193-247
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  • Lanza, Benedetto; Donald G. Broadley 2014. A review of the genus Gonionotophis in north-eastern Africa (Squamata: Lamprophiidae). . Acta Herpetologica 9 (1): 89-97 - get paper here
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  • Maritz, Bryan, John L. Blackburn and Paul Huang. 2014. Gonionotophis nyassae (Günther, 1888) Black File Snake. Diet. African Herp News (61): 25-26 - get paper here
  • Pietersen, Errol and Darren Pietersen 2002. Mehelya nyassae, Black File Snake. Diet and defenze. African Herp News (35):13-14 - get paper here
  • Rasmussen,J.B. 1981. The snakes from the rainforest of the Usambara Mountains, Tanzania: a checklist and key. Salamandra 17 (3-4): 173-188 - get paper here
  • 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
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  • Werner, Franz Josef Maria 1906. Neue Reptilien aus Deutsch-Ostafrika. Zool. Anz. 30: 53-55. - get paper here
 
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