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Helminthophis frontalis (PETERS, 1860)

IUCN Red List - Helminthophis frontalis - Data Deficient, DD

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Higher TaxaAnomalepididae, Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Costa Rica Blind Snake 
SynonymTyphlops (Helminthophis) frontalis PETERS 1860: 517
Helminthophis frontalis — PETERS 1881
Helminthophis frontalis — BOULENGER 1893: 5
Helminthophis frontalis — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 49
Helminthophis frontalis — SAVAGE 2002
Helminthophis frontalis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 324 
DistributionCosta Rica, Panama

Type locality: “Costa Rica”  
TypesSyntypes: ZMB 3823, 3925 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Members of the genus share the following distinctive characteristics that will distinguish them from other genera of blind worm snakes: enlarged, nonpolygonal head plates that have rounded, posterior margins; prefrontal plates meeting on the midline to separate rostral and pre-frontal; frontal enlarged, rounded, and similar in appearance to dorsal scales, but about twice as large. Scale rows around midbody 20 to 24; tail with a terminal spine. Helminthophis differs from the extralimital Typhlophis in head scutellation, since the upper head scales in the latter genus are similar in size and shape to the dorsal scutes (Savage 2002: 554).

DIAGNOSIS: A tiny species with the head and neck pinkish in life, lacking enlarged ventral scales, and with the minute eyes hidden under scales (Savage 2002: 554).

SIMILAR SPECIES: (1) Anomalepis mexicanus has the head colored like the body. (2) Liotyphlops albirostris has a light spot on the snout and the rostral and frontal in contact. (3) Typhlops costaricensis has the undersides of the posterior venter and tail yellow. (4) Leptotyphlops ater has a yellow tail tip and only 14 scale rows around the mid body. (5) Caecilians genera lack epidermal scales (Savage 2002: 554). 
CommentType species: Typhlops (Helminthophis) frontalis PETERS 1860: 517 is the type species of the genus Helminthophis PETERS 1860. 
  • Bauer, A.M.; Günther,R. & Klipfel,M. 1995. The herpetological contributions of Wilhelm C.H. Peters (1815-1883). SSAR Facsimile Reprints in Herpetology, 714 pp.
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • Köhler, G. 2008. Reptiles of Central America. 2nd Ed. Herpeton-Verlag, 400 pp.
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • Peters, WILHELM C. H. 1881. Einige herpetologische Mittheilungen. 1. Uebersicht der zu den Familien der Typhlopes und Stenostomi gehörigen Gattungen oder Untergattungen. 2. Ueber eine neue Art von Tachydromus aus dem Amurlande. 3. Ueber die von Herrn Dr. finsch aus Polynesien g Sitzungs-Ber. Gesellsch.Naturforsch. Freunde Berlin, 1881 (4): 69-72.
  • Peters, Wilhem Carl Hartwig 1860. Drei neue Schlangen des k. zoologischen Museums aus America und Bemerkungen über die generelle Unterscheidung von anderen bereits bekannten Arten. Monatsber. königl. Akad. Wiss. Berlin. 1860 (October): 517-521 - get paper here
  • Ray, Julie M. and Patty Ruback 2015. Updated checklists of snakes for the provinces of Panamá and Panamá Oeste, Republic of Panama. Mesoamerican Herpetology 2 (2): 168-188 - get paper here
  • Savage, J.M. 2002. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna Between Two Continents, Between Two Seas. University of Chicago Press, 934 pp. [review in Copeia 2003 (1): 205]
  • Solorzano, A. 2004. Serpientes de Costa Rica - Snakes of Costa Rica. Editorial INBio, Costa Rica, 792 pp.
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
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