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Liotyphlops albirostris (PETERS, 1858)

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Higher TaxaAnomalepididae, Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: White-nosed Blindsnake, Whitenose Blind Snake 
SynonymRhinotyphlops albirostris PETERS 1858: 402
Liotyphlops albirostris — PETERS 1881: 69
Typhlops (Idiotyphlops) emunctus GARMAN 1884
Helminthophis petersii BOULENGER 1889
Helminthophis petersii — BOULENGER 1893: 6
Helminthophis albirostris — BOULENGER 1893: 6
Helminthophis canellei MOCQUARD 1903: 211
Typhlops emunctus — BARBOUR 1906: 226
Helminthophis albirostris — AMARAL 1924: 26
Helminthophis canellei — AMARAL 1924: 27
Helminthophis emunctus — AMARAL 1924: 27
Liotyphlops cucutae DUNN 1944: 49
Liotyphlops petersii — DUNN 1944
Liotyphlops albirostris — TAYLOR 1951: 25
Liotyphlops caracasensis ROZE 1952: 150
Liotyphlops rowani SMITH and GRANT 1958
Liotyphlops albirostris — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 49
Liotyphlops albirostris — FREIRE et al. 2007
Liotyphlops albirostris — WALLACH et al. 2014: 396
Liotyphlops petersii — LINARES-VARGAS et al. 2021
Liotyphlops cucutae — LINARES-VARGAS et al. 2021 (incertae sedis)
Liotyphlops caracasensis — LINARES-VARGAS et al. 2021 
DistributionCosta Rica, Panama, Costa Rica (Puntarenas),
Colombia, Venezuela (Distrito Federal, Táchira, Trujillo, Miranda, Mérida [Esqueda & La Marca 1999]), Ecuador

Type locality: “Veragua” [Panama]

caracasensis: Venezuela (vicinity of Caracas, Miranda, Mérida, Curaçao; Type locality: Cuartel Urdaneta, Caracas D. F., Venezuela.

cucutae: Colombia (Santander); Type locality: Cúcuta, Norte de Santander, Colombia.

petersii: Ecuador; Type locality: Guayaquil, Ecuador.  
TypesSyntypes: ZMB 9529
Holotype: MHNLS 514; other specimens: Venezuela: Caracas CAS 94619– 94620, CM 7345, CM 90256, DEH 10458, DEH 10740, DEH 12096, IBSP 25802, MCZ-R 50747, MHNLS 514, MNRJ 7854, NHM 1976.101, UMMZ 117273; Mérida MNHP 1903–1935, NHM 1903.4.28.11, NHM 1904.6.30.1, NHM 1905.5.31.61; Miranda: MHNLS 514, MHNLS 11824, MHNLS 15550. Curaçao: RMNH 7851, RMNH 19215 [caracasensis]
Holotype: MLS 038; other specimens: Santander, Puerto Wilches: AMNH 91798; Norte de Santander, Cúcuta: MCZ 67939 [cucutae]
Holotype: MCZ 3971 [emunctus]
Holotype: NHM 1946.1.11.26; other specimens: Ecuador: SMNS 2515; Esmeraldas, Esmeraldas: QCAZ-R 3855; Guayas, Guayaquil: NHM 1946.1.11.26 [petersii]
Holotype: INHS (= UIMNH) 41731; Panama: Near Fort Clayton Reservation, Canal Zone; C. Grant; January- 13 March 30, 1958 [rowani] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Liotyphlops share the following suite of features that separate them from other anomalepidids: enlarged, nonpolygonal head plates that have rounded posterior margins; the enlarged rostral meeting a broad and short frontal plate to completely separate the prefrontals; scale rows at midbody 22 to 28; tail with a terminal spine. Liotyphlops differs from Typhlophis of South America by having enlarged head scales (scales on upper head surface same size and shape as dorsals in Typhlophis) and from the other Costa Rican genera in the enlarged rostral and peculiar frontal scales (Savage 2002: 555, whose diagnosis is based on 7 species known in 2002).

DIAGNOSIS (species): A small rare species with a light spot on the snout, lacking enlarged ventral scales and with the minute eyes hidden under scales (Savage 2002: 555).

DESCRIPTION: Total length to 223 mm; glossy black above and below. Scale rows around midbody 22; dorsal scale rows from head to tip of tail 370 to 455; no enlarged precloacal scales; tail short, about as long as head (Savage 2002: 555).

SIMILAR SPECIES: (1) Anomalepis mexicanus has the head colored like the body. (2) Helminthophis frontalis has the head and neck pinkish in color, and the rostral and frontal scales are separated by the prefrontals. (3) Typhlops costaricensis has the undersides of the posterior body and tail yellow. (4) Leptotyphlops ater has 14 scale rows around the midbody. (5) Limbless amphibians lack epidermal scales (Savage 2002: 555).

Comparisons: see Abegg et al. 2019 for a comparison of Liotyphlops species.

Diagnosis: Liotyphlops albirostris can be distinguished from other Liotyphlops by: (a) the frontal being exceptionally large, where the length is half the width; (b) the posterior edge of the prefrontals passes the posterior edge of the rostral; (c) visibility of the eye variable (sometimes invisible, and sometimes poorly visible); (d) rostral scale markedly rounded in dorsal view; (e) the third scale of the first row extending beyond the posterior edge of the remaining scales of the first row; (f) posterior edge of the inferior preocular is rounded; (g) the third supralabial scale has a rounded margin; and (h) the third supralabial scale slightly higher than the second and fourth supralabials (Linares-Vargas et al. 2021).

Diagnosis (petersii): Liotyphlops petersii is differentiated from other Liotyphlops in the following characteristics: (a) width of the rostral scale equivalent to half the width of the head, (b) rostral scale extending to the interocular level, (c) third supralabial scale contacting the ocular scale, (d) prefrontal scale not in contact with the lower nasal scale.

Diagnosis (caracasensis): The original description of L. caracasensis is congruent with the specimens from Colombia, how- ever, in the recent review of L. albirostris which used specimens from Venezuela and Colombia, two diagnostic characters are reported: (a) five or four scales in the first vertical row of dorsal scales, (b) preocular scales absent, (c) ocular scales in contact with prefrontals. An addi- tional character reported by Santos (2018) includes the posterior edge of the prefrontal scale extending beyond the posterior edge of the rostral scale. In his revision, Santos (2018) listed specimens from Venezuela (CM 90256, MHNLS 514, MHNLS 11824) and from Colombia (CM 39565), but not from Panama. Since the second character is not present in any of the specimens from Colombia, it is possible that this character is present in L. caracasensis or that Santos (2018) was referring to a character that is present in Liotyphlops albirostris from Panama.

Description (emunctus): Amaral 1924: 30 
CommentType species: Rhinotyphlops albirostris PETERS 1857 is the type species of the genus Liotyphlops PETERS 1881 (which is a substitute name for Rhinotyphlops PETERS, fide WILLIAMS & WALLACH 1989: 87).

Synonymy after DIXON & KOFRON 1984. Kaiser et al. 2013 considered the generic names Hawkeswoodus Hoser 2012, Kraussus Hoser 2012 invalid and rejected their use instead of Liotyphlops. Linares-Vargas et al. 2021 resurrected Liotyphlops petersii and Liotyphlops caracasensis. However, specimens and localities of the resurrected species across the range of what these authors redefined as L. bondensis are poorly documented and difficult to track down, without any data presented to show variation or phylogenetic (molecular) data, so we consider the resurrection as a bit preliminary and leave them within albirostris for the time being. For example, the list of 92 specimens provided in Appendix S1 does NOT make any indication which specimen is which species, and Fig. 8 (map) only shows type localities of most species (but not specimens listed in the text or appendix), which is rather confusing, to say the least.

Distribution: not in Brazil nor Argentina fide Wallach et al. 2014, and Costa & Bernils 2015.

Key: Dixon & Kofron 1984 have a key to the 8 species known in 1984. 
EtymologyNamed after Latin “albus, -a, -um” = white and “rostrum” = beak, trunk, or proboscis.

The genus is named after the Greek word leios, meaning smooth, and the Greek word typhlops, meaning blind. 
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