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Amphisbaena leali THOMAS & HEDGES, 2006

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Higher TaxaAmphisbaenidae, Amphisbaenia, Lacertoidea, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Pestel Wormlizard, Pestel Amphisbaena 
SynonymAmphisbaena leali THOMAS & HEDGES 2006 
DistributionHispaniola (Haiti: Grande Anse)

Type locality: 5.0 km S Pestel, Dépt. de la Grande Anse,
TypesHolotype: USNM 562791, collected on 25 May 1991, by Manuel Leal and Richard Thomas. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Amphisbaena leali is a moderate- sized (to 254 mm SVL), robust, longtailed, extensively pigmented species of Amphisbaena with caudal autotomy, without major alterations of the head scales, and with the Y chin configuration. It differs from all other Antillean species in having very wide, granule-filled interannular spaces, deepening to pits between the medially narrowed paramedian pairs of ventral segments. In being long-tailed and having large numbers of caudal annuli it is similar to A. caudalis; but in addition to the unique pitting, it differs in being somewhat heavier bodied (Fig. 3B), longer headed (Fig. 4C in THOMAS & HEDGES 2006), and in being extensively pigmented. It further differs from A. caudalis in having a higher number of cloacals (19-23 vs. 10-19), and higher number of total segments to a midbody annulus (35-38 vs. 32- 35) (Table 1). The internasal sutures of A. leali average shorter than the other species of southern Hispaniola, except for A. gonavensis. A few individuals of A. caudalis have somewhat widened interannular spaces ventrally, but none have either the extent or the deepness of the depressions characteristic of A. leali. Besides this unique feature, it differs from A. innocens in having longer body annuli posteriorly, long tail and high number of caudal annuli (17-20 vs. 10-13), and small first infralabials (Fig. 5). In higher “difference counts” (12-25 vs. -2-16) there is no overlap when the comparison is with the distal Tiburon Peninsula A. innocens (-2-7). The second row of postgenials has 4 versus a strong mode of 5 scales in A. innocens. Amphisbaena leali is more extensively and heavily pigmented than the majority of A. innocens, and it has larger hemipenes with greater development of pleats and terminal lamellae. 
CommentAbundance: only known from its original description (Meiri et al. 2017). 
EtymologyAmphisbaena leali is named after Manuel Leal, who took part in collecting the type series. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Meiri, Shai; Aaron M. Bauer, Allen Allison, Fernando Castro-Herrera, Laurent Chirio, Guarino Colli, Indraneil Das, Tiffany M. Doan, Frank Glaw, Lee L. Grismer, Marinus Hoogmoed, Fred Kraus, Matthew LeBreton, Danny Meirte, Zoltán T. Nagy, Cristiano d 2017. Extinct, obscure or imaginary: the lizard species with the smallest ranges. Diversity and Distributions - get paper here
  • Thomas, R. & Hedges, S.B. 2006. Two New Species of Amphisbaena (Reptilia: Squamata: Amphisbaenidae) from the Tiburon Peninsula of Haiti. Carib. J. Sci. 42 (2): 208-219 - get paper here
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