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Uropeltis arcticeps (GÜNTHER, 1875)

IUCN Red List - Uropeltis arcticeps - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaUropeltidae, Henophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Tirunelveli Earth Snake 
SynonymSilybura arcticeps GÜNTHER 1875
Silybura nilgherriensis var. picta BEDDOME 1886: 16
Silybura nilgherriensis var. arcticeps BEDDOME 1886: 16
Silybura nilgherriensis var. picta — MASON 1888: 185
Uropeltis arcticeps — SMITH 1943
Uropeltis arcticeps — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 142
Uropeltis arcticeps arcticeps — WHITAKER & CAPTAIN 2004 (part.)
Uropeltis arcticeps arcticeps — CHANDRAMOULI & GANESH 2010 (part.)
Uropeltis arcticeps — GANESH et al. 2014
Uropeltis arcticeps — WALLACH et al. 2014: 779 
DistributionS India (Tirunelveli hills, ca. 8°7’ N & 77°7’E; >1000 m elevation, Kerala)

Type locality: ,,Tinevelly", S India.

nilgherriensis var. picta: Type locality: ,,North Travancore near Peermede, . . . on coffee estate at an elevation between 3000 and 4000 feet”, S India.  
TypesSyntypes: BMNH 1946.1.16.11—1946.1.16.12 (Mts. of N. Tinevelly, 4—6,000 feet). [Silybura arcticeps GÜNTHER]
Holotype: BMNH (missing, fide E. M. NOBLE, in litt.). [Silybura nilgherriensis var. picta BEDDOME] 
DiagnosisDescription: Snout obtusely pointed; portion of rostral visible from above equal to or a little less than its distance from the frontal; eye one half to one-fourth the length of the ocular shield. Scales in 17 rows. V. 127-128, 146-157, nearly twice as broad as the adjacent scales; C. 8-10. Tail as in macrolepis (Smith 1943: 81).

Coloration: Black or dark purplish-brown above, uniform or the scales· edged with yellowish, or the colours reversed, or yellowish spotted with black; yellow (orange) below, with large black blotches or cross-bars, or almost entirely black or purplish- brown (Smith 1943: 81).

Size: Total length: 370, diameter 11 mm (Smith 1943: 81). 
CommentThe nominotypical form U. arcticeps is currently known only from two syntypes originating from one same locality. Recent studies in its type locality did not yield another example. Museums specimens currently assigned to U. arcticeps require re-evaluation (S.R. Ganesh pers. comm., 28 Jan 2014).

Subspecies: Uropeltis arcticeps madurensis has been elevated to full species status by GANESH et al. 2014. Silybura nilgherriensis var. picta BEDDOME 1886 has been associated as a subjective junior synonym of either U. arcticeps or as a ‘subspecies’ of U. madurensis (fide SMITH, 1943). GANESH et al., 2014 consider it as incertae sedis. 
  • Beddome, R.H. 1878. Description of six new species of snakes of the genus Silybura, family Uropeltidae. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1878: 800-802. - get paper here
  • Beddome, R.H. 1886. An account of the earth snakes of the Peninsula of India and Ceylon. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (5) 17: 3-33. - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Chandramouli, S. R. and S. R. Ganesh 2010. Herpetofauna of southern Western Ghats, India – Reinvestigated after decades. Taprobanica 2 (2): 72-85 - get paper here
  • Ganesh, S.R.; R. Aengals & Eric Ramanujam 2014. Taxonomic reassessment of two Indian shieldtail snakes in the Uropeltis ceylanicus species group (Reptilia: Uropeltidae). Journal of Threatened Taxa 6 (1): 5305-5314 - get paper here
  • Gower, D.J.; Captain, A. & Thakur, S.S. 2008. On the taxonomic status of Uropeltis bicatenata (GÜNTHER) (Reptilia: Serpentes: Uropeltidae). Hamadryad 33 (1): 64 – 82 - get paper here
  • Günther,A. 1875. Second report on collections of Indian Reptiles obtained bv the British Museum. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1875: 224-234 - get paper here
  • Mason, GEORGE E. 1888. Description of a new earth-snake of the genus Silybura from the Bombay Presidency with remarks on little known Uropeltidae. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (6) 22: 184-186. - get paper here
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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
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