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Cynisca degrysi (LOVERIDGE, 1941)

IUCN Red List - Cynisca degrysi - Data Deficient, DD

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Higher TaxaAmphisbaenidae, Amphisbaenia, Lacertoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Sierra Leone Worm Lizard 
SynonymPlacogaster degrysi LOVERIDGE 1941: 400
Cynisca degrysi — GANS 1987: 34 (incertae sedis)
Cynisca degrysi — BRANCH et al. 2003
Cynisca degrysi — GANS 2005: 28 
DistributionSierra Leone ?, Nigeria ?

Type locality: ‘‘Lagos, Sierra Leone’’ (unclear locality: there is no Lagos in Sierra Leone).  
TypesHolotype: ZMH R.K. 1070-E.K. 13179; destroyed. 
DiagnosisDescription. Rostral moderate, triangular; nasal fused with first and second labials, preocular and prefrontal, forming a long suture with its fellow behind the rostral; no prefrontals; frontal small; a pair of postfrontals; a pair of parietals; no occipitals; no supraocular; no preocular; ocular large, eye distinct; 1 (third) upper labial; 2 temporals, upper very large, forming an extensive suture with a postfrontal and parietal; mental elongate; 2 lower labials, first very large, second small; no postmental; 4 chin shields, all of which are in contact with a first lower labial; 243 annuli on body, 26 on tail; 17 (10 + 7) segments in a midbody annulus, the median ventral segment six times as broad as long; 6 anals; preanal pores. (Loveridge 1941)

Coloration. Above, pale brown; below, white. (Loveridge 1941)

Measurements. Total length 120 (107 + 13) mm. (Loveridge 1941) Remarks. Obviously derived from Amphisbaeua leonina of Tumbo Island, French Guinea, from which it differs in having 26 annuli (instead of 20) on tail; in 17 (instead of 24) segments in a midbody annulus, the median ventral segments being 6 (instead of less than 2) times as broad as long; absence (instead of 3-6) of preanal pores; and of doubtful consequence, no postmental, it having divided longitudinally to form 4 chin shields.

DIAGNOSIS (after original description; type never illustrated): Preocular supralabials, nasal, preocular, and prefrontal fused. Ocular discrete (large). A small median azygous shield. Frontals and parietals large and discrete, no occipitals (?). 2 temporals, upper very large, forming an extensive suture with frontal and parietal. 2 supralabials and 2 infralabials. Mental elongate, between large first infralabials; no postmental. 4 postgenials. 243 body annuli; 26 (or fewer) caudal annuli. Midbody segments, 10 dorsal, 7 ventral. Median ventral segments azygous. No precloacal pores. (6 precloacal segments.) Snout-vent plus tail length, 107 + 13 mm. (Gans 1987) 
CommentAbundance: only known from the type specimen (Meiri et al. 2017).

Status: Gans 1987 considered this species as incertae sedis, given that the type was lost and the brief description did not fit any of the taxa examined by Gans. The type locality is also dubious, nor are there any other specimens available from Sierra Leone. 
EtymologyNamed after Pedro de Grys (de Grijs) who worked at the Zoological Museum, Hamburg, and who lent the specimens to Loveridge. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Branch, William R., Oliver S. G. Pauwels and Marius Burger 2003. Re-discovery of Cynisca bifrontalis in Gabon, with additional notes on Monopeltis galeata (Reptilia: Amphisbaenia). African Journal of Herpetology 52 (2): 93-100 - 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
  • Loveridge, ARTHUR 1941. Revision of the African lizards of the family Amphisbaenidae. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 87: 353-451. - 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
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