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Myriopholis erythraeus (SCORTECCI, 1929)

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Higher TaxaLeptotyphlopidae, Leptotyphlopinae, Myriopholini, Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Eritrean Worm Snake
G: Erythrea-Schlankblindschlange 
SynonymGlauconia erythraea SCORTECCI 1929: 293
Leptotyphlops erythraeus — PARKER 1932: 362
Leptotyphlops erythraeus — TRAPE 2002: 49
Leptotyphlops erythraeus — WALLACH & LANZA 2004: 87
Leptotyphlops sp. — HOOFIEN & YARON 1964: 38
Leptotyphlops cf. macrorhynchus — LANZA 1972: 174
Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus — HAHN 1978: 482
Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus — LANZA 1983: 220
Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus — MEIRTE 1992: 15
Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus — LARGEN & RASMUSSEN 1993: 324
Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus — SCHLEICH et al., 1996: 476
Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus — LARGEN 1997: 87
Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus — MCDIARMID et al. 1999: 36
Leptotyphlops cairi — LARGEN & RASMUSSEN 1993: 324 (part)
Leptotyphlops cairi — LARGEN 1997: 87 (part)
Leptotyphlops nigricans — LARGEN & RASMUSSEN 1993: 325 (part)
Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus macrorhynchus — HAHN & WALLACH 1998: 54
Leptotyphlops erythraeus — BROADLEY & WALLACH 2007: 21
Myriopholis erythraeus — ADALSTEINSSON, BRANCH, TRAPE, VITT & HEDGES 2009
Leptotyphlops erythraeus — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 428
Myriopholis erythraeus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 463 
DistributionErythrea, Ethiopia (The Red Sea coast of Eritrea and the Dahlak Archipelago, extending inland to the Awash
National Park in eastern Ethiopia in the southwestern corner of the Afar depression)

Type locality: Massaua [=Massawa], Eritrea (15°37’N, 39°28’E, near sea level)  
TypesHolotype: MSNM 3349 (Milano, formerly MSNM 1916), collected by F. Fatigati. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Close to Leptotyphlops nursii, but differs in having a more pronounced beak (extending below lip level), fewer subcaudals (perhaps without sexual dimorphism) and perhaps smaller maximum size (17 mm vs. 242 mm). Skull with a large frontoparietal foramen like L. cairi. (Broadley & Wallach 2007)

Description. Body cylindrical, with head broader slightly broader than neck, the short tail tapers slightly before a terminal cone.
Snout rounded, rostral moderate (0.38–0.53 head width, mean = 0.44), with nearly parallel sides, extend- ing posteriorly to mideye level, posterior border in hexagonal configuration, broader than supranasals; ventral rostral with deep preoral cavity, lateral head profile with a weak blunt beak that extends below lip level, beak narrow ventrally. Behind rostral, upper lip bordered by infranasal (nostril midway between rostral and supralabial along nasal suture), small anterior supralabial that just reaches level of nostril with width along lip equal to that of infranasal, and moderate posterior supralabial. Frontal semilunate, more than twice as broad as deep, larger than supraoculars and postfrontal; interocular line along rostral-frontal suture; interparietal and interoccipital broader than frontal or postfrontal. Ocular slightly oblique, small eye with distict pupil beneath upper anterior border; parietals transverse, occipitals enlarged in type but occipitals not fused in other speci- mens; parietals transverse, in contact with posterior supralabial, occipitals fused and enlarged. Temporal sin- gle. Cloacal shield semilunate; no apical spine, tail terminating in a smooth cone. Prominent tubercles on all head shields except parietals and occipitals.
Body covered with 14 rows of smooth, imbricate, subequal scales, reducing to 12 rows on the tail. Mid- dorsals 311–335; subcaudals 28–34.
Total length/diameter ratio 59–99; total length/tail length ratio 11.1–15.3.
Holotype uniformly pinkish-beige but other specimens light brown. A specimen from the Awash National Park (BMNH 1977.2249) has the seven dorsal scale rows medium brown, chin and anterior venter pure white for the first 50 scales, rest of venter pale brown, subcaudals medium brown. (Broadley & Wallach 2007)

Size. Largest specimen (MZUF 12270 — Awash National Park, Ethiopia) 158.5 + 11.5 = 170 mm. (Broadley & Wallach 2007) 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality. 
  • Adalsteinsson, S.A.; Branch, W.R.; Trapé, S.; Vitt, L.J. & Hedges, S.B. 2009. Molecular phylogeny, classification, and biogeography of snakes of the Family Leptotyphlopidae (Reptilia, Squamata). Zootaxa 2244: 1-50 - get paper here
  • Broadley, Donald G. & Wallach, V. 2007. A revision of the genus Leptotyphlops in northeastern Africa and southwestern Arabia (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae). Zootaxa 1408: 1–78 - get paper here
  • Largen, M.J.; Spawls, S. 2010. Amphibians and Reptiles of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 694 pp.
  • Largen,M.J. & Rasmussen,J.B. 1993. Catalogue of the snakes of Ethiopia (Reptilia Serpentes), including identification keys. Tropical Zoology 6: 313-434 - get paper here
  • Scortecci, G. 1929. Rettili dell'Eritrea esistenti nelle Collezioni del Museo Civico de Milano. Atti della Società Italiana di Scienze Naturali, e del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Milano 67 (3-4): 290-339 [1928] - get paper here
  • Stephen Spawls; Tomáš Mazuch& Abubakr Mohammad 2023. Handbook of Amphibians and Reptiles of North-east Africa. Bloomsbury, 640 pp. - 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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