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Teretrurus rhodogaster (WALL, 1921)

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Higher TaxaUropeltidae, Henophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Palni Mountain Burrowing Snake 
SynonymBrachyophidium rhodogaster WALL 1921
Teretrurus rhodogaster — SMITH 1943: 70
Teretrurus rhodogaster — WILLIAMS 1959
Brachyophidium rhodogaster — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 129
Teretrurus rhodogaster — SHARMA 2004
Brachyophidium rhodogaster — OLORI & BELL 2012
Brachyophidium rhodogaster — WALLACH et al. 2014: 123
Teretrurus rhodogaster — CYRIAC & KODANDARAMAIAH 2017
Teretrurus rhodogaster — GANESH & MURTHY 2022 
DistributionIndia (Shembaganur, Kodaikanal, Palnis, Kerala)

Type locality: „Palnai HiIls", S India (probably vicinity of Shembanagur).  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1921.3.4.13 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Brachyophidium can be distinguished from all other amniotes by the characters given above for the family, and from other uropeltids by eye in ocular shield, nasals in contact, a temporal, no mental groove, dorsal scales in 15 rows at midbody, a simple, unmodified tail tapering to a single pointed scale, and interchoanal process of parasphenoid absent (see Olori & Bell 2012, Pyron et al. 2016).

Diagnosis: A species of Teretrurus endemic to the Palni-Anamalai hill complex, lacking a distinct supraocular scale (vs. possessing in T. sanguineus, T. travancoricus, T. hewstoni). (Ganesh & Murthy 2022)

Description and variation (n=3): Measurements in mm: snout-vent length: 159-163; tail length: 13.5-19; head length: 6.7-8.2; head width: 5-5.5; body width 5.5-7; eye diameter: 1; eye-snout distance: 2-2.2; inter-orbital distance: 3.3-4; inter-narial distance: 0.8-1. Habitus: Small-bodied, trunk cylindrical to slightly compressed, especially near tail; body fairly slender; head not distinct from neck, as wide as midbody; snout fairly pointed to slightly rounded in profile; tail small, abruptly ending in a short pointed spur. Scalation: scales smooth, cycloid, without apical pits; nasal scales entire, pierced by nostrils; nasals in broad midline contact, not separated by rostrum; prefrontal abnormally elongate and much produced, as large as frontal, but a bit smaller than parietal; head scales lacking pre-, post-oculars; supraocular not discernable, at least partially fused with ocular scale; temporal present; mental groove absent; dorsal scales in 13:15:15 rows, with 13-->15 at 38-40th ventral scales; supralabials 4/4; infralabials 4/5; ventrals 142-146; subcaudals 7-10 pairs; terminal caudal scales keeled, with a single sharp projection in the end. Colouration: dorsum purplish or dark cherry red to maroon coloured, with orange crescent-shaped collar mark and bright washes along the sides; venter uniform and unpatterned bright orange to pink (turning pale off-white in preservative); subcaudals orange medially, border on both sides by purplish black; eye black. (Ganesh & Murthy 2022) 
CommentType species: Brachyophidium rhodogaster WALL 1921 is the type species of the genus Brachyophidium WALL 1921, now a synonym of Teretrurus. 
  • Cyriac, V. P., & Kodandaramaiah, U. 2017. Paleoclimate determines diversification patterns in the fossorial snake family Uropeltidae Cuvier, 1829. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 116(Supplement C), 97–107 - get paper here
  • Ganesh, S. R., & Murthy, B. C. 2022. Taxonomy of the shieldtail snake genus Teretrurus Beddome, 1886 (Serpentes: Uropeltidae) with a revised key and remarks on the geographic gaps in the Western Ghats, Peninsular India. Records of the Zoological Survey of India, 122(1), 25-35
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • Palot, M.J. 2015. A checklist of reptiles of Kerala, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 7(13): 8010–8022 - get paper here
  • Pyron R. A., Ganesh S. R., Sayyed A., Sharma V., Wallach V. & Somaweera R. 2016. A catalogue and systematic overview of the shield-tailed snakes (Serpentes: Uropeltidae). [type catalogue] Zoosystema 38 (4): 453-506 - get paper here
  • Sharma, R. C. 2004. Handbook Indian Snakes. AKHIL BOOKS, New Delhi, 292 pp.
  • Smith, M.A. 1943. The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, Including the Whole of the Indo-Chinese Sub-Region. Reptilia and Amphibia. 3 (Serpentes). Taylor and Francis, London. 583 pp.
  • Wall,F. 1921. A new snake of the family Uropeltidae. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 28: 41-42 - 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.
  • Whitaker, Romulus and Ashok Captain 2004. Snakes of India. Draco Books, 500 pp., reprinted 2007 - get paper here
  • Williams, Ernest E. 1959. The occipito-vertebral joint in the burrowing snakes of the family Uropeltidae. Breviora (106): 1-10 - get paper here
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