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Madatyphlops microcephalus (WERNER, 1909)

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Higher TaxaTyphlopidae (Madatyphlopinae), Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes) 
Common Names 
SynonymTyphlops microcephalus WERNER 1909: 61
Typhlops microcephalus — GLAW & VENCES 1994: 349
Typhlops microcephalus — D’CRUZE et al. 2008
Madatyphlops microcephalus — HEDGES et al. 2014
Lemuriatyphlops microcephalus — PYRON & WALLACH 2014
Madatyphlops microcephalus — NAGY et al. 2015 
DistributionMadagascar (Montagne d'Ambre)

Type locality: Madagascar  
TypesHolotype: SMNS 6720 
CommentHabitat: rainforest areas of low and mid-altitude

Has been considered as a synonym of Ramphotyphlops braminus (Hahn, 1980; Welch, 1982; Brygoo, 1983, 1987; McDiarmid et al., 1999, Loveridge 1957).

Characters that distinguish it from R. braminus include “absence of a superior nasal suture (vs. completely divided suture) and an inferior nasal suture contacting the second supralabial (rather than the preocular). Additionally, the nostrils were reported to be inferior, the eye invisible, the coloration black, and a yellow midventral band was present that increased in size caudally. Although many scolecophidians exhibit a pale (yellow or white) chin, anal region and/or subcaudals, the extensive midventral pale coloration of T. microcephalus is unique among Malagasy Typhlopidae and we thus recognize it as a valid species.” (WALLACH & GLAW 2009).

Type species: Typhlops microcephalus WERNER 1909 is the type species of the genus Lemuriatyphlops PYRON & WALLCH 2014: 55.

Diagnosis. Lemuriatyphlops can be distinguished from all other typhlopoids by lack of scale row reduction, and by the combination of the following characters: small-to moderate-sized (total length 77–276 mm), stout- to slender-bodied (length/width ratio 34–94) snakes with 20–22 scale rows (without reduction), 252–520 total middorsals, short to moderate tail (1.6–4.0% total length) with 6–16 subcaudals (length/width ratio 0.9–2.2), and apical spine small or nubbin. Dorsal and lateral head profiles rounded, narrow to moderate rostral (0.26–0.61 head width), inferior nasal suture in contact with second supralabial, preocular in contact with second and third supralabials, eye small with distinct pupil or eyespot, T-III or T-V SIP, and postoculars 1–3. Lateral tongue papillae present; left lung absent; tracheal lung multicameral (with 11–32 chambers), cardiac lung multicameral (with 2–4 chambers) or unicameral, and right lung multicameral (with 2–4 chambers); testes unsegmented; hemipenis eversible, lacking retrocloacal sacs; and rectal caecum small (0.8–2.5% SVL). Coloration light brown to black, venter lighter; and ventral snout, chin, cloacal region, and subcaudals yellow or white. 
EtymologyThe genus name is a masculine noun, and refers to the mythical lost continent of Lemuria, which connected Madagascar to India and Oceania. “microcephalus” means small head. 
  • D’Cruze, N.; Köhler, J.; Franzen, M & Glaw, F. 2008. A conservation assessment of the amphibians and reptiles of the Forêt d’Ambre Special Reserve, north Madagascar. MADAGASCAR CONSERVATION & DEVELOPMENT 3 (1): 44-54
  • Glaw ,F. & Vences, M. 1994. A Fieldguide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Vences & Glaw Verlag, Köln (ISBN 3-929449-01-3)
  • Guibé,J. 1958. Les serpents de Madagascar. Memoires de l’Institut Scientifique de Madagascar 12: 189-260
  • Hedges, S.B., Marion, A.B., Lipp, K.M., Marin, J. & Vidal, N. 2014. A taxonomic framework for typhlopid snakes from the Caribbean and other regions (Reptilia, Squamata). Caribbean Herpetology 49: 1–61 - get paper here
  • NAGY, ZOLTÁN T.; ANGELA B. MARION, FRANK GLAW, AURÉLIEN MIRALLES,<br />JOACHIM NOPPER, MIGUEL VENCES & S. BLAIR HEDGES 2015. Molecular systematics and undescribed diversity of Madagascan scolecophidian snakes (Squamata: Serpentes) Zootaxa 4040 (1): 031–047 - 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
  • Schlüter, A. & Hallermann, J. 1997. The Type Specimens in the Herpetological Collection of the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde in Stuttgart. Stuttgarter Beitr. Naturk. Ser. A (553): 1-15 - get paper here
  • Wallach, V. & Glaw, F. 2009. A new mid-altitude rainforest species of Typhlops (Serpentes: Typhlopidae) from Madagascar with notes on the taxonomic status of T. boettgeri Boulenger, T. microcephalus Werner, and T. capensis Rendahl. Zootaxa 2294: 23–38 - get paper here
  • Werner,F. 1909. Beschreibung neuer Reptilien aus dem Kgl. Naturalienkabinett in Stuttgart. Jahreshefte Ver. vaterl. Naturk. Württ. 65: 55-63 - get paper here
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