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Gonionotophis brussauxi (MOCQUARD, 1889)

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesGonionotophis brussauxi brussauxi (MOCQUARD 1889)
Gonionotophis brussauxi prigoginei LAURENT 1956 
Common NamesE: Brussaux’s File Snake, Mocquard's African Ground Snake 
SynonymGonionotus brussauxi MOCQUARD 1889: 146
Gonionotus vossi BOETTGER 1892: 417 (fide MERTENS 1967)
Gonyonotus [sic] Brussauxi — BOULENGER 1891: 345
Gonionotophis brussauxi — BOULENGER 1893: 323
Gonionotophis vossi — BOULENGER 1893: 323
Gonionotophis brussauxi — LAURENT 1954: 44
Gonionotophis brussauxi — PERRET 1961
Goniotophis [sic] brussauxi — BROADLEY 1998
Gonionotophis brussauxi — PAUWELS et al. 2002
Gonionotophis brussauxi — WALLACH et al. 2014: 309
Gonionotophis brussauxi — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 406
Gonionotophis brussauxi — BROADLEY et al. 2018

Gonionotophis brussauxi prigoginei LAURENT 1956
Gonionotophis brussauxi prigoginei LAURENT 1956: 107
Gonionotophis brussauxi prigoginei — LAURENT 1958: 121
Gonionotophis brussauxi prigoginei — WELCH 1982: 161
Gonionotophis brussauxi prigoginei — PAUWELS & COLYN 2023 
DistributionCameroon, C/E Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Congo (Brazzaville), Gabon (Pauwels et al. 2006), Angola, W Uganda, Equatorial Guinea

Type locality: Loudinia-Niari, Congo [francais]

prigoginei: Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire); Type locality: Kamituga, 1000 m [elevation], Terr. de Mwenga, Kivu  
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 1890.0054
Holotype: RMCA (= MRAC = RGMC) 16443, female; other type material in MD (Museu Dundo) [prigoginei] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): A distinctive African genuswidely distributed in sub-Saharan regions, diagnosed by the fol-lowing combination of characters: body sub-triangular (formerMehelya) or roughly cylindrical, moderately to markedly elongated,and tail moderate to long; head moderate, broad and substantiallyflattened, sharply distinct from neck; snout broadly rounded;nostril enlarged; eye moderate to small, very heavily pigmented,with vertically elliptical or sub-circular pupil; midbody scale rows15–21, vertebral row enlarged and bicarinate; dorsal scalesstrongly keeled (smooth in stenophthalmus), without apical pits; ventrals 147–268, lateral keel present (former Mehelya) or absent; subcaudals paired, 36–124; anal entire; two distinct maxillary conditions: (1, former Mehelya) maxilla with 6–10 teeth increasing in size posteriorly, followed after a short diastema by 11–26 smaller, subequal teeth; (2) maxilla with 24–38 teeth, slightly longer anteriorly, diastema absent; hemipenis minimally to very deeply forked, variable morphology; sulcus centrifugal and divided (Loveridge, 1939; Bogert, 1940; Broadley, 1990; Branch, 1998; Chippaux, 2001).

Revised generic description: Maxillary teeth 26, slightly longer anteriorly, continuous without a diastema (Loveridge 1939). Body cylindrical, moderately elongated, and tail moderate; head substantially flattened, scarcely distinct from neck; snout broadly rounded; nostril enlarged; eye small, with vertically elliptical pupil; preocular present or absent; midbody scale rows 15–23, vertebral row enlarged and bicarinate; dorsal scales strongly keeled without apical pits; ventrals 162–187, rounded or obtusely angulate laterally; subcaudals paired, 67–96; anal entire. Hypapophyses developed throughout the vertebral column. Hemipenis not bifurcated, extending to subcaudal scale 5–6. Sequence divergence between Gonionotophis and other file snake genera ranges from 4.8–5.4% for 16S, 8.6–11.9% for cyt b, and 0.6–1.3% for c-mos. Gonionotophis forms a polytomy with Mehelya and Gracililima (Broadley et al. 2018). 
CommentSynonymy: Not listed in SCHMIDT 1919. Gonionotophis brussauxi prigoginei fide Jirka Schmidt (pers. comm.). Heterolepis platycephala MATSCHIE 1893 was mentioned in a previous edition of this database but turned out to be an unpublished label name (J. Hallermann, pers. comm., 8 Nov 2016). Gonionotus, is preoccupied by Gonionotus Gray, 1846 [snakes], and Gonionotus Marshall, 1868 [Hemiptera]).

Distribution: Has been erroneously listed for Benin but does not occur there (Hughes 2013). For a map with localities in Equatorial Guinea see SÁNCHEZ-VIALAS et al. 2022.

Type species: Gonionotus brussauxi MOCQUARD 1889 is the type species of the genus Gonionotophis BOULENGER 1893. Gonionotophis is a substitute name for Gonionotus which is pre-occupied by Gonionotus GRAY 1846 (snakes) and Gonionotus MARSHALL 1868 (hemiptera). Simocephalus GÜNTHER 1858 is pre-occupied by Simocephalus SCHOEDLER 1858 (crustacea). According to other sources Heterolepis capensis SMITH 1847: 55 is the type species of the genus Gonionotophis CSIKI 1903. 
EtymologyNamed after Eugene Brussaux, an anthropologist who was active in West and Central Africa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 
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  • Boulenger,G.A. 1891. Remarks on the genus Heterolepis, Smith. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (6) 8: 344-346 - get paper here
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