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Uropeltis ceylanica CUVIER, 1829

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Higher TaxaUropeltidae, Henophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Ceylon Earth Snake 
SynonymUropeltis ceylanicus CUVIER 1829 (nomen nudum ?)
Uropeltis ceylanicus COCTEAU 1833
Uropeltis ceylanicus — EYDOUX & GERVAIS 1837: 4
Coloburus Ceylanicus — DUMÉRIL BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 164
Siloboura [sic] ceylonica — GRAY 1858: 378
Silybura brevis GÜNTHER 1862
Silybura brevis — BEDDOME 1864: 178
Coloburus ceylanicus — JAN 1865
Silybura nilgherriensis var. annulata BEDDOME 1886: 15
Silybura brevis — BOULENGER 1893: 158
Uropeltis ceylanicus — SMITH 1943
Uropeltis ceylanicus — WILLIAMS 1959
Uropeltis ceylanica — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 143
Uropeltis cf. ceylanica — MIRZA & PAL 2010
Uropeltis ceylanicus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 779
Uropeltis cf. ceylanica — GANESH & ARUMUGAM 2016
Uropeltis ceylanica — PYRON et al. 2016 
DistributionS India (Western Ghats from Castle Rock to Travancore, Kerala, Tamil Nadu); Restricted to Western Ghats by GANESH et al. 2014.

Type locality: ,,Ceylan".

Type locality: ,,Anamallay Hills. [Silybura brevis GÜNTHER]
Type locality: ,,Ootacamund, Nilgherries, 7000 feet elevation". [Silybura nilgherriensis BEDDOME]
Type locality: ,,Wynad, Malabar, 3500 feet elevation", S India. [Silybura bicatenata GÜNTHER]
Type locality: ,,The Wynad, Malabar, 3500 feet elevation", S India. [Silybura nilgherriensis var. annulata BEDDOME]  
TypesLectotype: MNHN-RA 0039, designated by GANS 1966; Paralectotype: Formerly in MHNP, now lost (fide GANS 1966)
Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.16.42. [Silybura brevis GÜNTHER]
Holotype: BMNH RR 1946.1.16.41. [Silybura nilgherriensis BEDDOME]
Holotype: BMNH RR 1946.1.16.8. [Silybura bicatenata GÜNTHER]
Holotype: BMNH 1946.1.16.1. [Silybura nilgherriensis var. annulata BEDDOME] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Uropeltis can be distinguished from all other amniotes by the characters given for the family, and from other uropeltids by united oculars, nasals in contact (except U. pulneyensis and some U. grandis), no temporal, no mental groove, dorsal scales in 15-19 rows at midbody, Oberhäutchen dentitions that are > 1.7 mm and 51-80% of the total cell size in all species examined thusfar (U. phipsonii, U. ellioti, and U. ceylanica; Gower 2003), and shortened, compressed tail that is either 1) rounded with keeled dorsal scales terminating in a somewhat enlarged convex cap formed by the terminal scute (Type III), 2) shortened, heavily truncated tail ending in a distinct flattened disc covered in multicarinate scales, with a terminal scute bearing multiple distinct points (Type IV), or 3) shortened, heavily truncated tail ending in a convex disc covered in multicarinate scales with a terminal scute bearing multiple distinct points (Type V; Fig. 3, Pyron et al. 2016: 488). 
Comment“BEDDOME‘s specimen, said to have come from Ganjam district, is probably incorrectly labelled as regards locality” (fide SMITH 1943).

Abundance: The commonest species in the Travancore hills.

Synonymy: Silybura bicatenata GÜNTHER 1864, once considered a synonym of U. ceylanicus (fide SMITH 1943), has been revalidated by GOWER et al. 2008.
Silybura shorttii BEDDOME, 1863 once considered a synonym of U. ceylanicus (fide SMITH 1943) has been revalidated by GANESH et al. 2014.

Type species: Uropeltis ceylanicus CUVIER 1829 is the type species of the genus Uropeltis CUVIER 1829.

Phylogeny: see Sampaio et al. 2022 for a near-complete (species-level) phylogeny of the family. 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality. 
  • Beddome, R.H. 1864. Description of new species of the family Uropeltidae from Southern India, with notes on other little-known species. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (3) 13: 177-180 - 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
  • Beddome, RICHARD HENRY 1863. Further notes upon the snakes of the Madras Presidency; with descriptions of new species. Madras Quart. J. Med. Sci., 6: 41-48 [Reprint: J. Soc. Bibliogr. Nat. Sci., London, 1 (10): 306-314, 1940]
  • Beddome, RICHARD HENRY 1863. Descriptions of new species of the family Uropeltidae from Southern India, with notes on other little-known species. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1863: 225-229. - get paper here
  • Bhupathy, Subramanian & N. Sathishkumar 2013. Status of reptiles in Meghamalai and its environs, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 5 (15): 4953-4961 - 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
  • Cocteau, TH. 1833. Sur le genre de reptiles ophidiens nommé Uropeltis par CUVIER, et description d'une espèce de ce genre. Magazine Zool. Guérin, Paris, Vol. 3 Classe III, pp. 1-7, pl. 2 (no page numbers) - get paper here
  • Dunaev E.A., Orlova V.F. 2003. Diversity of snakes (on the materials of the exposition of the Zoological Museum of the Moscow State University). Moscow: Moscow State University Press, 376 pp
  • Eydoux, F. & P. Gervais 1837. Voyage de la Favourite. Reptiles. Dragon spiloptère, Draco spilopterus. Magasin Zool. Guérin, Paris, III: 1 - 10 - get paper here
  • Ganesh, S. R.; M. Arumugam 2016. Species Richness of Montane Herpetofauna of Southern Eastern Ghats, India: A Historical Resume and a Descriptive Checklist. Russ. J. Herpetol. 23 (1): 7-24 - 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
  • Gray,J.E. 1858. On a new genus and several new species of Uropeltidae in the collection of the British Museum. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (3) 2: 376-381 - get paper here
  • Günther, A. 1864. The Reptiles of British India. London (Taylor & Francis), xxvii + 452 pp. - get paper here
  • Günther, ALBERT 1862. On new species of snakes in the collection of the British Museum. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (3) 9: 52-67. - get paper here
  • Inger, Robert F.;Shaffer, H. Bradley;Koshy, Mammen;Bakde, Ramesh 1984. A report on a collection of amphibians and reptiles from the Ponmudi, Kerala, South India. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 81 (3): 551-570 - get paper here
  • Jan, G. 1865. Iconographie générale des ophidiens. 9. Livraison. J.B. Bailière et Fils, Paris [1864] - 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.
  • Mirza, Z.A. & Pal, S. 2010. Über eine Schlange aus der Gattung Uropeltis (Serpentes: Uropeltidae) aus den Western Ghats von Maharashtra, Indien. Sauria 32 (3): 47-52 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Sampaio, F. L., Day, J. J., Wickramasinghe, L. M., Cyriac, V. P., Papadopoulou, A., Brace, S., ... & Gower, D. J. 2022. A near-complete species-level phylogeny of uropeltid snakes harnessing historical museum collections as a DNA source. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 107651 - get paper here
  • Sclater,W.L. 1891. Notes on a collection of snakes in the Indian Museum, with descriptions of several new species. J. Asiat. Soc. Bengal LX: 230-250 - 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.
  • Underwood, G. 2002. On the rictal structures of some snakes. Herpetologica 58 (1): 1-17 - 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.
  • 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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