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Myriopholis tanae (BROADLEY & WALLACH, 2007)

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Higher TaxaLeptotyphlopidae, Leptotyphlopinae, Myriopholini, Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Tana worm snake 
SynonymLeptotyphlops tanae BROADLEY & WALLACH 2007: 28
Leptotyphlops longicauda — LOVERIDGE, 1936: 231(part.)
Leptotyphlops longicaudus — SPAWLS, 1978: 3 (part.)
Leptotyphlops cairi — HOEVERS & JOHN SON 1982: 182 (part.)
Leptotyphlops longicaudus — SPAWLS et al. 2001: 304 (part.)
Leptotyphlops tanae — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 433
Leptotyphlops tanae — WALLACH et al. 2014: 370
Leptotyphlops tanae — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 373
Leptotyphlops tanae — SPAWLS et al. 2023 
DistributionNE Kenya (Tana River, Coast Region), S Ethiopia, S Somalia, 0-400 m elevation.

Type locality: village of Ngatana ca. one mile northwest from new village of Wema, in the lower Tana River, Coast Region, Kenya (02°30’S, 40°15’E, elevation 50 m).  
TypesHolotype: MCZ 40099, a male, collected by A. Loveridge, 14–21 June 1934. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Leptotyphlops tanae differs from all East African members of the L. cairi complex in its low counts for middorsals (227–260) and subcaudals (25–30) and its very small size. Skull with a large frontoparietal foramen like L. cairi. (Broadley & Wallach 2007)

Description (paratype variations in parentheses). Body cylindrical, with head broadened and flattened, head tubercles prominent, the moderate tail tapers to a stout downturned terminal spine.
Snout rounded, rostral moderate (0.36–0.50 head width, mean = 0.40), narrower than nasals and not extending back to the level of the eyes, a weak preoral groove inferiorly. Behind rostral, upper lip bordered by infranasal (nostril midway between rostral and supralabial along nasal suture), small anterior supralabial with width along lip equal to that of infranasal, large ocular with eye near upper anterior edge, and moderate posterior supralabial. Supraoculars slightly longer than wide, anteriorly wedged between upper nasal and ocular, posteriorly wedged between the subequal frontal and postfrontal, which are smaller than the interparietal and interoccipital. Parietals transverse, in contact with the posterior supralabials, occipitals not fused in Kenya specimens (fused in MCZ 40100 and on one side of MCZ 40097) but fused in Somali and Ethiopian specimens. Temporal single. Prominent tubercles on rostral and nasals. No mental, four infralabials.
Body covered with 14 rows of smooth, imbricate subequal scales, reducing to 10 rows on the tail. Middorsals 249 (227–260, mean 242.86, n = 21); subcaudals 30 (25–30, mean 27.71, n = 21);
Total length/diameter ratio 47 (46–87); total length/tail length ratio 9.8 (10.2–12.4). Length of holotype 88.5 + 10 = 98.5 mm.
Three to nine (usually seven) middorsal scale rows pigmented light brown to tan (in preservative, flesh pink in life fide Loveridge, 1936), venter cream to pale yellow.
Skull (MCZ 40105) similar to that of Leptotyphlops cairi.
Everted hemipenis (MCZ 40108, SVL 76 mm, tail 7 mm, 27 subcaudals) three subcaudals (1.2 mm) long and 1/4 subcaudal (0.1 mm) wide, nude, uniformly narrow with a pair of lateral longitudinal flaps along basal 2/5 of organ, each flap approximately half as wide as the organ, apical tip with swollen lip. (Broadley & Wallach 2007)

Size. Largest specimen (MCZ 40105) 93 + 9.5 = 102.5 mm; smallest specimen (MZUF 35209) 43.5 + 4.5 = 48 mm. (Broadley & Wallach 2007) 
CommentHabitat: Termite mound at edge of rice swamp and within six inches of the surface of black cotton soil forming banks in flooded rice fields (Loveridge, 1936).

Synonymy: Indotyphlops tanae should be in the genus Myriopholis as it is a member of the longicaudus species group (V. Wallach, pers. comm. 14 Dec 2017). 
EtymologyNamed for the lower Tana River, where the type locality is situated. 
  • 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
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - 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
  • Gemel, R.; G. Gassner & S. Schweiger 2019. Katalog der Typen der Herpetologischen Sammlung des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien – 2018. Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien, B 121: 33–248
  • 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
  • Hoevers, L.G.; Johnson, P.M. 1982. Notes on a Collection of Snakes from the middle Juba Region, Somalia. Moni. Zool. Ital. Jour. Zool. Suppl. 16 8: 173-203 - get paper here
  • Largen, M.J.; Spawls, S. 2010. Amphibians and Reptiles of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 694 pp.
  • Loveridge,A. 1936. Scientific results of an expedition to rain forest regions in Eastern Africa. V. Reptiles. Bull. Mus. comp. Zool. Harvard 79 (5): 209-337 - get paper here
  • Spawls, S. 1978. A checklist of the snakes of Kenya. East Afr. Natur. Hist. Soc. and Natl. Mus., Nairobi, J. no. 167 18 pp.
  • 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
  • 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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