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Malpolon monspessulanus (HERMANN, 1804)

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Higher TaxaPsammophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesMalpolon monspessulanus monspessulanus (HERMANN 1804)
Malpolon monspessulanus saharatlanticus GENIEZ, CLUCHIER & DE HAAN 2006 
Common NamesE: Montpellier Snake
G: Eidechsennatter
D: Hagedisslang
Russian: ящеричная змея 
SynonymColuber monspessulanus HERMANN 1804: 283
Natrix lacertina WAGLER 1824
Coluber rupestris RISSO 1826: 91
Rhabdodon fuscus FLEISCHMANN 1831: 26
Psammophis lacertina — SCHLEGEL 1837: 203 (part.)
Coelopeltis lacertina — EICHWALD 1841
Coluber monspeliensis — GERVAIS 1848: 205
Caelopeltis lacertina — BOETTGER 1876: 62
Coelopeltis lacertina — BÖTTCHER 1877: 287
Caelopeltis lacertina — BOETTGER 1879: 500
Caelopeltis lacertina — BLANFORD 1881: 680
Coelopeltis lacertina neumayeri — BOETTGER 1885
Coelopeltis monspessulana neumayeri — BOETTGER 1889: 272
Coelopeltis lacertina — BOULENGER 1887: 345
Coelopeltis monspessulanus — BOULENGER 1896
Coelopeltis monspessulanus — BOULENGER 1913
Malpolon monspessulanus — MERTENS & MÜLLER 1928
Coelopeltis monspessulanus — LAURENT 1935: 347
Malpolon monspessulanus — ENGELMANN et al 1993
Malpolon monspessulanus — SCHLEICH, KÄSTLE & KABISCH 1996: 502
Malpolon monspessulanus fuscus — CATTANEO 1999: 132
Malpolon monspessulanus — KWET & TRAPP 2015
Malpolon monspessulanus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 424

Malpolon monspessulanus saharatlanticus GENIEZ, CLUCHIER & DE HAAN 2006
Malpolon monspessulanus insignitus — VALVERDE 1992
Malpolon monspessulanus — GENIEZ & GENIEZ 1993: 7
Malpolon monspessulanus — BONS & GENIEZ 1996: 242
Malpolon monspessulanus monspessulanus — DE HAAN 1999: 701
Malpolon monspessulanus ssp. — GENIEZ et al. 2004
Malpolon monspessulanus saharatlanticus — MANGIACOTTI et al. 2014 
DistributionSpain (introduced to Ibiza and Mallorca), Portugal, Gibraltar,
S France, NW Italy (incl. Lampedusa island, Islet of Gallinara), Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia

monspessulanus: Italy (W Liguria), SE France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco

saharatlanticus: Morocco to Western Sahara (Dakhla) along the north-western Atlantic coast from Bou Izakarn with inland extensions up to Aoulouz and Tafraoute on the southern slopes of the western Atlases including the lower Drâa valley and upper Souss valley; Type locality: 3 km south from Tah towards Laâyoune (Western Sahara) [27.653° N, 12.961° W]

Type locality: Montpellier, Southern France; restricted to: Les Cresses, Vic-la-Gardiole, altitude 6 m, environ 43°28’36”N, 3°47’49”E, soit à 15 km SSW du centre de Montpellier, by BOUR et al. 2017.  
TypesNeotype: MNHN-RA-2016.0104, adult male; Former holotype: MZUS Strasbourg (D. Roubioux, 1798), lost.
Holotype: MNHN-RA 2004.0076; Paratypes: ZFMK and BEV [saharatlanticus]
Holotype: ZSM, Uncatalogued specimen(s) (lost fide Hoogmoed & Gruber 1983: 327) [lacertina] 
DiagnosisDescription: “Die großen Überaugenschilder ragen mit einer scharfen Kante über die Augen vor und verleihen dem Tier einen “grimmigen" Blick. Stirnbereich zwischen den Überaugenschildern vertieft. Auge groß, mit runder Pupille. Körperschuppen glatt oder etwas gefurcht (niemals gekielt). 17-19 Rückenschuppenreihen um die Körpermitte. Stirnschild (Frontale) sehr schmal. 8 (selten 9) Oberlippenschilder (Supralabialia), 2 Zügelschilder (Lorealia), 1 Voraugenschild (Praeoculare), 2-3 Hinteraugenschilder (Postocularia) (Gruber 2009: 154).

Färbung Grundfarbe hellgrau, grau-braun, rötlich braun, oliv bis graugrün oder grauschwarz. Männchen einfarbig, Weibchen bisweilen mit dunklen, hell gesäumten Punkten oder Flecken. Bauch weißlich grau bis gelblich, oft mit dunklen Flecken. Jungtiere mit auffälliger Fleckenzeichnung auf dem Rücken und mit dunkler Kopfzeichnung (Gruber 2009: 154).

Ontogenetic change: Juveniles have a conspicous blotched / spotted pattern and a darker pattern on the head.

Diagnosis (saharatlanticus): large colubrid snake (males 2.17 m and females 1.40 m maximum total length) showing general features of Malpolon monspessulanus (opisthoglyphous dentition, concave pileus, frontal plate clove-shaped — distally narrowing — almost always in contact with the large single preocular, two loreal scales, dorsal scales lengthwise grooved or smooth), dorsalia in 19 rows at mid-body, and for males, the major part of the dorsum black with one white spot on each scale, while the head and the nape are dark or light uniformly greenish or brownish like in M. m. monspessulanus; the distal part of the dark extension progressively vanishes near the cloaca; the tail is generally brown with more or less black patches; one light stain bordered with black on each supralabial scale (resembles the juvenile feature but not as contrasting as in females, cf. Tab. 6); the ground colour of the belly is generally white and presents a grey or blackish longitudinal marking, the rather contrasting pattern of the throat and anterior part of the belly suggests the typical juvenile and female ventral pattern (cf. Fig. 9); females present very contrasting patterns on head, throat and dorsum (Fig. 10); juveniles raise a similar pattern to those of Malpolon monspessulanus monspessulanus. From Geniez et al. 2006. For details and comparisons with the two other subspecies in Morocco see Geniez et al. 2006: Table 6. 

Veith (1909) reports about a Coelopeltis lacertina (= M. m.) biting Zamenis gemonensis.

Subspecies: Malpolon monspessulanus insignitus (GEOFFROY DE ST-HILAIRE 1809) has been elevated to full species status with fuscus as a subspecies (CARRANZA et al. 2006).

Type species: Natrix lacertina WAGLER 1824 is the type species of the genus Malpolon FITZINGER 1826.

Distribution: updated based on map 119 in Sindaco & Eremchenko 2013. Not in Corsica, though Kohler & Handke reported in 2007 (Herpetozoa, 20: 81-82) one skin shedding of this species, nobody ever reported a snake alive (M. Delaugerre, pers. comm., 6 Aug 2013). Natrix lacertina WAGLER 1824 was listed in “Serpentum brasiliensium” (??). Not in Albania fide Miszei et al. 2017. Not in Libya fide Bauer et al. 2017. Not in Israel where it is replaced by M. insignitus. 
EtymologyNamed after the Latin name for Montpellier in southern France. 
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