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Eirenis persicus (ANDERSON, 1872)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Dark-headed Dwarf Racer
G: Persische Zwergnatter 
SynonymCyclophis persicus ANDERSON 1872: 392
Pseudocyclophis walteri BOETTGER 1888: 261 (fide SMITH 1943)
Pseudocyclophis persicus — BOETTGER 1888
Pseudocyclophis walteri — BOULENGER 1890
Contia persica — BOULENGER 1893
Contia angusticeps BOULENGER 1894: 262 (fide SMITH 1943)
Contia persica — WALL 1908: 801
Contia angusticeps — WALL 1908
Contia walteri — WALL 1911
Contia mcmahoni WALL 1911: 1037
Contia zebrina WALL 1923
Contia mcmahoni — SMITH 1943: 189
Contia persica — SMITH 1943: 188
Eirenis persicus — FORCART 1950
Eirenis persica — KHALAF 1959
Contia persica walteri — TERENT ÉV & CHERNOV 1965
Eirenis persicus walteri — MERTENS 1969: 61
Eirenis persicus — BARAN 1978: 264
Eirenis persica — ANANJEVA et al. 1988: 9699
Eirenis mcmahoni — DAS 1996: 56
Pseudocyclophis persicus — FRYNTA et al. 1997
Pseudocyclophiops [sic] persicus — DAS & CHATURVEDI 1998 (in error)
Pseudocyclophis persicus — KHAN 2004
Eirenis (Pseudocyclophis) persicus — NAGY et al. 2004
Eirenis persicus — VENCHI & SINDACO 2006
Pseudocyclophis persicus — GRUBER 2009: 127
Eirenis persicus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 259
Eirenis (Pseudocyclophis) walteri — RAJABIZADEH et al. 2015
Eirenis (Pseudocyclophis) angusticeps — RAJABIZADEH et al. 2015
Eirenis (Pseudocyclophis) mcmahoni — RAJABIZADEH et al. 2015
Eirenis (Pseudocyclophis) walteri — AKBARPOUR et al. 2020
Eirenis (Pseudocyclophis) angusticeps — AKBARPOUR et al. 2020
Eirenis (Pseudocyclophis) mcmahoni — AKBARPOUR et al. 2020 
DistributionS Turkmenistan, Iran, E Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, S Armenia

Type locality: Bushire, Iran, (28°55′13′′N, 50°50′09′′E)

angusticeps: NE Pakistan (lower ranges of Hindukush, Himalayan range); possibly E Afghanistan; Type locality: Cherat, Baluchistan (33°49′15′′N, 71°52′54′′E), North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan.

mcmahoni: Pakistan; Type locality: “Quetta, Lorlai, Mach, Spintangi” [Baluchistan, Pakistan]


walteri: disjunct in S Turkmenistan, NE Iran, supposedly W Afghanistan; SE Iran, S/W Pakistan; Type locality: “Neu-Serachs an der Nordostspitze Persiens stück” [= Sarakhs city (36°32′15′′N, 61°10′26′′E), north-eastern Iran.  
TypesHolotype: ZSI 4828, ZSI 16624 (RAJABIZADEH et al. 2015)
Holotype: Caucasian Museum Tiblissi [walteri]
Holotype: ZISP 10323 [nigrofasciatus]
Holotype: BNHM 768 [zebrina]
Holotype: ZSI (Zoological Survey of India), Calcutta, India; lost fide Smith (1943) [angusticeps] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (angusticeps): Rajabizadeh et al. 2015: 26.

Diagnosis (nigrofasciatus): Rajabizadeh et al. 2015: 26.

Diagnosis (mcmahoni): Rajabizadeh et al. 2015: 27.

Rajabizadeh et al. 2015 use quite a lot of male/female symbols hence their text is difficult to copy and paste. 
CommentSubspecies: Eirenis persicus nigrofasciatus (NIKOLSKY 1907) has been considered as a valid species by recent authors.

Distribution: Does probably not occur in India (I. DAS, pers. comm.). Records for “persicus” from Northwest India mentioned by some authors (e.g. SMith 1943, chernov 1948) and recently uncritically adopted (e.g. Leviton et al. 1992; Sindaco et al. 2000) refer almost certainly to localities in former ‘British India’ and therefore to what is today Pakistan. E. mcmahoni is not in Pakistan fide KHAN 2002 (pers. comm.) or not recognized as species by KHAN. Not in Turkey fide A. Avci, pers. comm. 21 May 2020. For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013.

Synonymy: E. mcmahoni has been considered as a synonym of Cyclophis persicus ANDERSON 1872 (= Pseudocyclophis persicus = Eirenis persica), e.g. by MINTON 1966 and others since then. RAJABIZADEH et al. 2015 revalidated Eirenis (Pseudocyclophis) walteri, angusticeps, nigrofasciatus, and mcmahoni in addition to describing a new species, E. occidentalis. However, their analysis appears to be a bit preliminary. From their phylogenetic analysis it is not clear which sequence data they analyzed (”ten novel sequences” without explanation), and it is unclear why they mention 8,9, and 7 speciments analyzed for angusticeps, nigrofasciatus, and walteri, of which only 2 nigrofasciatus are shown in their phylogenetic trees (Figs. 8,9). Only some of their revalidated species have diagnoses (provided here), others don’t (including persicus). Finally, their analysis seemed to have suffered from lack of care (e.g. the word “square” was misspelled 8 times in the text). Hence, we do not adopt their taxonomic conclusions at this point.

Type species: Pseudocyclophis walteri Boettger, 1888 is the type species of the subgenus Pseudocyclophis Boettger, 1888. 
EtymologyNamed after its distribution in Persia (now: Iran). E. mcmahoni has been named after Sir Henry McMahon, the president of the Quetta Natural History Society, who sent the specimens to Wall. 
  • ANANJEVA, NATALIA B.; KONSTANTIN D. MILTO, ANDREI V. BARABANOV, EVGENY A. GOLYNSKY 2020. An annotated type catalogue of amphibians and reptiles collected by Nikolay A. Zarudny in Iran and Middle Asia. Zootaxa 4722 (2): 101–128 - get paper here
  • Anderson, J. 1872. On some Persian, Himalayan, and other Reptiles. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1872: 371-404 - get paper here
  • Arakelyan, Marine S.; Felix D. Danielyan, Claudia Corti, Roberto Sindaco, and Alan E. Leviton 2011. The Herpetofauna of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. SSAR, Salt Lake City, 154 pp. [ISBN: 978-0-916984-84-7.]
  • Baran, I. 1976. Türkiye yilanlarinin taksonomik revizyonu ve cografi dagilislari [Turkish Snakes]. TBTAK Ankara, 177 pp.
  • Baran, I. 1982. Zur Taxonomie der Schlangen in Südost- und Ost-Anatolien. Spixiana 5 (1): 51-59 - get paper here
  • Baran, I., Y. Kumlutas, C Ilgaz, O. Türkozan & A. Avci 2004. New locality records extended the distribution of some ophidians in southeastern Anatolia. Russ. J. Herpetol. 11 (1): 6-9 - get paper here
  • Baran,I. 1978. Some rare species of snakes from Turkey. Annalen des Naturhistorischen Museums, Wien 81 [1977]: 261-265 - get paper here
  • Boettger, O. 1888. Über die Reptilien und Batrachier Transcaspiens. Zool. Anz. 11: 259-263 - 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
  • Boulenger, George A. 1890. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. Taylor & Francis, London, xviii, 541 pp. - get paper here
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  • İĞCİ, Naşit; Bahadır AKMAN, Bayram GÖÇMEN, Ali İsmet DEMİRSOY and Mehmet Anıl OĞUZ 2015. Range extension of four species of snakes (Ophidia: Eirenis, Pseudocyclophis, Platyceps) in eastern Anatolia. BIHAREAN BIOLOGIST 9 (2): 166-169 - get paper here
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  • Mahlow, Kristin; Frank Tillack, Josef Friedrich Schmidtler & Johannes Müller 2013. An annotated checklist, description and key to the dwarf snakes of the genus Eirenis Jan, 1863 (Reptilia: Squamata: Colubridae), with special emphasis on the dentition. Vertebrate Zoology 63 (1): 41–85 - get paper here
  • McMahon, A. H. 1903. A Rare Snake. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 14: 181 - get paper here
  • Mertens, R. 1969. Die Amphibien und Reptilien West-Pakistans. Stuttgart. Beitr. Naturk. 197: 1-96 - get paper here
  • Minton, S. A. Jr. 1966. A contribution to the herpetology of West Pakistan. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., 134: 29-184. - get paper here
  • Nagy, Z.T., J.F. Schmidtler, U. Joger & M. Wink 2003. Systematik der Zwergnattern (Reptilia: Colubridae: Eirenis) und verwandter Gruppen anhand von DNA-Sequenzen und morphologischen Daten. Salamandra 39 (3-4): 149-168 - get paper here
  • Rajabizadeh, M. 2017. Snakes of Iran. [in Farsi] Tehran: Iranshenasi, 496 pp. - get paper here
  • Rajabizadeh, Mahdi 2013. Biodiversity of the snakes in northern and western mountains of Iran, with special emphasis on biodiversity in colubroids. Thesis, U Gent, VI + 227 pp. - get paper here
  • Rajabizadeh, Mahdi; Zoltán T. Nagy, Dominique Adriaens, Aziz Avci, Rafaqat Masroor, Josef Schmidtler, Roman Nazarov, Hamid Reza Esmaeili and Joachim Christiaens 2015. Alpine–Himalayan orogeny drove correlated morphological, molecular, and ecological diversification in the Persian dwarf snake (Squamata: Serpentes: Eirenis persicus). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 176 (4): 878-913 [2016], DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12342 - get paper here
  • RASTEGAR-POUYANI, NASRULLAH; HAJI GHOLI KAMI, MEHDI RAJABZADEH, SOHEILA SHAFIEI AND STEVEN CLEMENT ANDERSON 2008. Annotated Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles of Iran. Iranian Journal of Animal Biosystematics 4 (1): 7-30
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  • Sindaco, Roberto; Alberto Venchi, Giuseppe M. Carpaneto, Marco A. Bologna 2000. The Reptiles of Anatolia: a Checklist and Zoogeographical analysis. Biogeographia, 21-2000: 441-554. - get paper here
  • 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.
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  • Venchi, Alberto and Roberto Sindaco 2006. Annotated checklist of the reptiles of the Mediterranean countries, with keys to species identification. Part 2 -Snakes (Reptilia, Serpentes). Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale "G. Doria", Genova, XCVIII: 259-364
  • Wall, F. 1911. Remarks on a snake collection in the Quetta museum. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 20: 1033-1042 - get paper here
  • Wall,F. 1908. Notes on a collection of snakes from Persia. J. Bombay nat. Hist. Soc. 18: 795-805 - get paper here
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