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Anilios leptosoma (ROBB, 1972)

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Higher TaxaTyphlopidae (Asiatyphlopinae), Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Murchison Blind Snake 
SynonymRamphotyphlops leptosomus ROBB 1972: 39
Typhlina leptosoma — HAHN 1980
Ramphotyphlops leptosoma — STORR 1981: 256
Ramphotyphlops leptosomus — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 67
Ramphotyphlops leptosoma — COGGER 2000: 593
Austrotyphlops leptosomus — WALLACH 2006
Ramphotyphlops leptosomus — WILSON & SWAN 2010: 414
Ramphotyphlops leptosomus — MARIN et al. 2013
Anilios leptosomus — HEDGES et al. 2014
Ramphotyphlops leptosoma — COGGER 2014: 804
Anilios leptosomus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 39
Anilios leptosoma — ELLIS et al. 2017 
DistributionAustralia (Western Australia)

Type locality: “The Loop”, lower Murchison River, Western Australia (27°33'S; 114°28'E)  
TypesHolotype: WAM R29623, adult male; Paratype. WAM R29624, from ‘The Loop’, lower Murchison River, 35 km north-east of Kalbarri (27°33'S; 114°28'E) Western Australia, September 1967. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A moderately long, slender Anilios to about 400 mm total length. Distinguished from all other Anilios by a combination of midbody scales in 16 rows, dorsal body scales 583–781, snout in profile prominent with obtusely angular horizontal edge, snout rounded and weakly trilobed in dorsal view, nasal cleft originating from second supralabial, extending anteriorly to nostril and terminating at rostral scale, presence of a terminal tail spine and lack of any black colouration on head, body or tail [Ellis et al. 2017].

Color: Snout horn-coloured. Remaining dorsal surfaces purplish-brown, gradually becoming paler ventrally.

Comparison with other species. Anilios leptosoma can be distinguished from all but three Anilios species (A. longissimus, A. minimus and A. nema) by its slender elongate body and low MBSR counts (16 vs 18, 20, 22 or 24) which does not differ within any species of the genus. Of the remaining three Anilios species with 16 MBSR (A. longissimus, A. minimus and A. nema), A. leptosoma can be distinguished by the termination point of nasal cleft at rostral completely dividing the nasal scale (vs terminating at nostril in A. longissimus and A. minimus, or midway between nostril and rostral in A. nema), higher number of dorsal body scale rows (583–781 vs 381–457 in A. minimus and 520–589 in A. nema) and a less depressed head in comparison to A. longissimus.
Within its distribution, A. leptosoma is most similar in general appearance to A. systenos sp. nov., A. obtusifrons sp. nov. and A. grypus; however, it is easily diagnosed by the low MBSR (16 vs 18 in A. systenos sp. nov., A. obtusifrons sp. nov. and A. grypus) and a combination of absence of a hooked beak (vs distinct hook in A. grypus), termination point of the nasal cleft at the rostral scale (midway between nostril and rostral in A. obtusifrons sp. nov.) and absence of any black pigment on the head or tail (vs black pigment on head and/or tail in A. grypus) [Ellis et al. 2017]. 
CommentHabitat: specimens were collected from habitats supporting loose sands or loam substrates of various colour. One specimen was collected in open mallee woodland with Banksia ashbyi to 5 m with a canopy cover of less than 10% over Spinifex longifolius and mixed small to medium shrubs to 1.5 m with cover ranging from 30–70%, from soil below a clump of spinifex (R66343). One specimen was collected from amongst the roots of spinifex in a burnt eucalypt woodland on red soil (R57545) and another was found in a mallee woodland with low Acacia on yellowish-brown sand. Specimens from Binnu were raked from red sandy loam spoil heaps in Acacia and Casuarina shrubland (R146454–56, R146459). Two specimens (R55038 and R55039) were collected from under a cement slab at Wooramel homestead garden [Ellis et al. 2017]. 
EtymologyDerived from the Greek words leptos meaning fine or thin and soma meaning body in reference to the thin thread-like appearance of the species. The amendment to the specific epithet to A. ‘leptosomus’ by McDiarmid et al. (1999) and subsequently accepted by other authors (Hedges et al. 2014; Pyron & Wallach 2014; Wallach et al. 2014) is not warranted as it is a noun in apposition (Shea 2015). As Robb (1972) did not state explicitly the use of the word ‘soma’ as a noun or adjective, it is to be treated as a noun and does not change from A. leptosoma with the resurrection of Anilios by Hedges et al. (2014). However, note that Shea 2015 concluded that Anilios is male. 
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • ELLIS, RYAN J.; PAUL DOUGHTY, STEPHEN C. DONNELLAN, JULIE MARIN & NICOLAS VIDAL 2017. Worms in the sand: Systematic revision of the Australian blindsnake Anilios leptosoma (Robb, 1972) species complex (Squamata: Scolecophidia: Typhlopidae) from the Geraldton Sandplain, with description of two new species. Zootaxa 4323 (1): 001–024 - get paper here
  • Hedges, S.B., Marion, A.B., Lipp, K.M., Marin, J. & Vidal, N. 2014. A taxonomic framework for typhlopid snakes from the Caribbean and other regions (Reptilia, Squamata). Caribbean Herpetology 49: 1–61 - get paper here
  • Marin, J., Donnellan, S.C., Hedges, S.B., Puillandre, N., Aplin, K., Doughty, P., Hutchinson, M.N., Couloux, A. & Vidal, N. 2013. Hidden species diversity of Australian burrowing snakes (Ramphotyphlops). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, doi: 10.1111/bij.12132 - 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.
  • Robb, J. 1972. A new species of the genus Rhamphotyphlops (Serpentes: Typhlopidae) from Western Australia. J. Royal Soc. Western Australia. 55: 39-4
  • Storr G M 1981. The genus Ramphotyphlops (Serpentes: Typhlopidae) in Western Australia. Rec. West. Austr. Mus. 9 (3): 235-271 - get paper here
  • Wallach, V. 2006. The nomenclatural status of Australian Ramphotyphlops (Serpentes: Typhlopidae). Bull. Maryland Herp. Soc. 42 (1): 8-24 - get paper here
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
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