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Amphisbaena slateri BOULENGER, 1907

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Higher TaxaAmphisbaenidae, Amphisbaenia, Lacertoidea, Squamata
Common NamesE: Slater's Worm Lizard 
SynonymAmphisbaena slateri BOULENGER 1907: 487
Amphisbaena slateri — DIRKSEN & DE LA RIVA 2000
Amphisbaena slateri — GANS 2005: 19 
DistributionPeru (Carabaya), Bolivia (La Paz)

Type locality: Peru; Puno, Valley of the Rio San Gaban (enters the Rio Inambari at 13°25’S, 70°18’W), elevation 2000– 3000 feet (~600–900 m)  
TypesHolotype: BMNH RR 1946.8.31.82 (formerly 1907.5.2.4); other specimens include ZMB 10888 and ZMH R01282, R05908, KUH 135171. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Among the Bolivian and Peruvian amphisbaenians (characters inside parenthesis) the round head distinguishes Amphisbaena slateri from A. kingii Bell, 1833, (keel-headed) and Leposternon microcephalum Wagler, 1824 (shovel-headed). The four precloacal pores distinguish it from A. silvestrii Boulenger, 1902 (two pores) and A. fuliginosa Linnaeus, 1758 (6–10 pores). The presence of 176–213 body annuli distinguishes A. slateri from A. borelli Peracca, 1897 (239–261), A. occidentalis Cope, 1876 (262–275), A. polygrammica Werner, 1900 (270), A. steindachneri Strauch, 1881 (255–266), and A. townsendi Stejneger, 1911 (261–279). By having 10–14 dorsal segments at midbody, A. slateri differs from A. alba (30–42), A. angustifrons Cope, 1861 (20–31), A. bolivica Mertens, 1929 (27–38), A. camura Cope, 1862 (28–42), A. cegei Montero, Sáfadez & Álvarez, 1997 (17–22), and A. vermicularis Wagler, 1824 (18–26). Amphisbaena slateri differs from A. heterozonata Burmeister, 1861 – sometimes considered a subspecies of A. darwinii Duméril & Bibron, 1839 (Montero 2016) – by the having 20–24 caudal annuli (vs. 13–18), enlarged parietals (vs. rarely enlarged), and a uniform body coloration (vs. dorsum brown, venter cream). Despite a small overlap in midbody dorsal/ventral segment counts between A. slateri (10–14/14–16) and A. heterozonata (14–24/15–28), specimens of the later most commonly have 16/18 segments. Finally, A. slateri differs from A. pericensis Noble, 1921 by lacking a compressed tail tip (vs. slightly laterally compressed), by having a postmental longer than the mental (vs. postmental faintly longer than mental) and having a uniform body coloration (vs. dorsum brown, venter cream). A summary of morphological characters useful to identify Peruvian and Bolivian amphisbaenids is present in Table 2.
Expanding comparisons to all Neotropical amphisbaenians, we find an overlap of most morphological character states between A. slateri and A. albocingulata Boettger, 1885, A. darwinii Duméril & Bibron, 1839, A. hogei Vanzolini, 1950, A. manni Barbour, 1914, A. mensae Castro-Mello, 2000, A. munoai Klappenbach, 1960, A nigricauda Gans, 1966, A. prunicolor (Cope, 1885), A. schmidti Gans, 1964, and A. talisiae Vanzolini, 1995. The uniform color pattern of A. slateri distinguishes it from A. albocingulata, A. darwinii, A. hogei, A. mensae, A. munoai, A. nigricauda, A. schmidti, and A. talisiae (countershading pattern), and from A. prunicolor (venter with a checkerboard pattern). By presenting a modal number of 14 midbody ventral segments, Amphisbaena slateri differs from A. hogei, A. manni, A. munoai, A. nigricauda, A. prunicolor, and A. schmidti (16), A. albocingulata (18), and A. darwinii (20). While all known specimens of A. slateri have four precloacal pores, most specimens of A. manni have six pores – females of A. nigricauda and A. prunicolor lack pores, but this trait is unknown in A. slateri, since no specimen was sexed. Postmental is distinctly longer than wide in A. slateri, while it is almost long as wide in A. darwinii, A. mensae, A. munoai, A. nigricauda, A. prunicolor, and A. talisiae. Parietals are enlarged in A. slateri, but not in A. manni and are irregular in A. darwinii. Finally, while the tail tip is rounded in A. slateri, it is conical in A. manni and has a slight lateral constriction in A. darwinii, A. hogei, and A. nigricauda (from Costa et al. 2018). 
CommentThis species is known from only 5 specimens (Costa et al. 2018). 
EtymologyNamed after the collector of the type, Thomas Slater. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1907. Descriptions of new lizards in the British Museum. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (7) 19: 486-489. - get paper here
  • Costa HC, Welton LJ, Hallermann J 2018. An updated diagnosis of the rare Amphisbaena slateri Boulenger, 1907, based on additional specimens (Squamata, Amphisbaenia, Amphisbaenidae). Evolutionary Systematics 2(2): 125-135 - get paper here
  • Dirksen, L. & De la Riva, I. 1999. The lizards and amphisbaenians of Bolivia (Reptilia, Squamata): checklist, localities, and bibliography. Graellsia 55: 199-215 - get paper here
  • Gans, C. 1967. Redescription of Amphisbaena slateri Boulenger, with comments on its range extension into Bolivia. Herpetologica 23 (3): 223-227. - get paper here
  • Gans, C. 2005. CHECKLIST AND BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE AMPHISBAENIA OF THE WORLD. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 289: 1-130 - get paper here
  • Vanzolini, P.E. 2002. AN AID TO THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN SPECIES OF AMPHISBAENA (SQUAMATA, AMPHISBAENIDAE). Pap. Avul. Zool., Sao Paulo 42(15):351-362 - get paper here
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