Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus (JAN, 1862)
Can you confirm these amateur observations of Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus?
|Higher Taxa||Colubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)|
|Common Names||E: Palestine Kukri Snake|
G: Schwarzkopf-Zwergnatter, Schwarzkopfnatter
|Synonym||Homalosoma melanocephalum JAN 1862: 34|
Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus — GÜNTHER 1865: 491
Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus — ENGELMANN et al 1993
Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus — VENCHI & SINDACO 2006
Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 654
|Distribution||E Turkey, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Egypt (Sinai), Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Soviet Union (Caucasus), Armenia, Azerbaijan|
Type locality: Beirut, Lebanon
|Types||Lectotype, MHNG 1246.77 (designated by WALLACH et al. 2014: 654, without any further explanation; V. Wallach, pers. comm., 29 Aug 2016, provided the following additional details: “Jan described Homalosoma melanocephala in 1862, based on 3 specimens (Milan, 189V + 56SC; Geneva, 202V + 55SC; Monaco, 210V + 68SC) from Beirut, Syria. Günther, in 1864, erected Rhynchocalamus (and the species R. melanocephalus) based on a specimen (London, 218V + 54SC) from Merom, Israel. The BMNH specimen is a holotype but Günther's name is a synonym of Jan's name. We selected the lectotype of Jan's name (as there were 3 syntypes in the original description) based on his illustration of it in the Jan & Sordelli atlas”.) Günther’s holotype (BMNH 19126.96.36.199, from Merom in Israel) is invalid as his name is a synonym of Jan’s name.|
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis (genus): The genus Rhynchocalamus can be distinguished from related genera through the count of 15 dorsal scales at mid-body, by a larger rostral shield that extends backwards between the internasalia and by a very wide frontal shield. This frontal shield is nearly as wide as it is long and has special dentition features with 6–8 maxillary teeth, with mandibular teeth that are slightly longer anteriorly than posteriorly and with palatine teeth absent (Schmidt 1933; Gasperetti 1988; Baran & Atatür 1998).|
|Comment||Subspecies: Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus satunini NIKOLSKY 1899 has been elevated to full species status by ŠMÍD et al. 2015.|
Distribution: Reports from the area of the former Yugoslavia are apparently in error; not in Iraq fide Habeeb & Rastegar-Pouyani 2016. See map in ŠMÍD et al. 2015: 382.
Type species: Homalosoma melanocephalum JAN 1862: 34 is the type species of the genus Rhynchocalamus GÜNTHER 1865.
Behavior (genus): fossorial snakes that are mostly nocturnal but can also be found active during the day.
Habitat: Rhynchocalamus snakes prefer humid areas with little vegetation and are found in mountainous areas, on heavy soils but not on sand. They are also known from arid and stony steppes, sparsely vegetated rocky slopes and wadis.
Diet: predominantly small insects such as ants, crickets and locusts (Disi et al., 2001).
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