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Leptotyphlops howelli BROADLEY & WALLACH, 2007

IUCN Red List - Leptotyphlops howelli - Data Deficient, DD

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Higher TaxaLeptotyphlopidae, Leptotyphlopinae, Leptotyphlopini, Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Howell’s worm snake 
SynonymLeptotyphlops howelli BROADLEY & WALLACH 2007: 30
Leptotyphlops macrops — BROADLEY & WALLACH 1996: 162 (part)
Leptotyphlops macrops — SPAWLS et al., 2002: 303 (part)
Leptotyphlops howelli — ADALSTEINSSON, BRANCH, TRAPE, VITT & HEDGES 2009
Leptotyphlops howelli — WALLACH et al. 2014: 367
Leptotyphlops howelli — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 367 
DistributionTanzania (Rufiji District)

Type locality: Mchungu Forest Reserve, Rufiji District, Piwani Region, Tanzania, (07°44'S, 39°17'E, elevation 15 m). In camp in woodland on surface after rain.  
TypesHolotype: NMZB 10455, a male, collected by K.M. Howell (field no. 7041), 5 September 1990. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A member of the Leptotyphlops macrops complex, distinguished by its low total middorsal scale count (229–237) from L. pembae (247–269) and L. macrops (272–322). It also differs from both these taxa in numerous visceral characters. (Broadley & Wallach 2007)

Description. The head shield arrangement does not differ from that of Leptotyphlops macrops. Head slightly wider than neck, with a moderate bulge over the eye in dorsal view.
Snout rounded in lateral view, with a shallow concavity to preoral portion of rostral; rostral broad (0.48– 0.50 head width, mean = 0.49), subrectangular, truncated at the level of the centre of the eye posteriorly; supranasal subequal in width to the ocular. Behind rostral, lip bordered by infranasal (nostril nearer to rostral than supralabial along nasal suture), moderate anterior supralabial twice as high as long and equal in width along lip to that of infranasal, broad ocular, and tall posterior supralabial that reaches the level of the centre of the eye dorsally; eye large and distinct, bulging beyond dorsal head profile, with a clearly defined iris; supraoculars smaller than frontal and postfrontal; interparietal slightly wider than frontal and postfrontal; parietals oblique, in contact with supralabials; occipitals fused and enlarged. Temporal single. Prominent tubercles on rostral, nasals and oculars. No mental, five infralabials, third largest. Paratype variations in parentheses below.
Total dorsals 237 (229); 14 scale rows round body; 10 scale rows round middle of tail; subcaudals 32 (30). (Broadley & Wallach 2007)

Size: Total length 158 mm (140 mm); tail 18 mm (15 mm), slightly tapering, then ending abruptly in a sharp point; midbody diameter 2.6 mm (2.1 mm).
Total length/diameter 61 (67); total length/tail length 8.8 (9.3). (Broadley & Wallach 2007)

Coloration: Dorsum and venter uniformly black, except for a small white patch on the chin. (Broadley & Wallach 2007) 
CommentHabitat: Coastal forest/savanna mosaic (holotype) or gallery forest (paratype). 
EtymologyNamed for the collector K.M. Howell (1945-2022), in recognition of his major contributions to Tanzanian herpetology. For an obituary see Stuart et al. 2023. 
  • Adalsteinsson, S.A.; Branch, W.R.; Trapé, S.; Vitt, L.J. & Hedges, S.B. 2009. Molecular phylogeny, classification, and biogeography of snakes of the Family Leptotyphlopidae (Reptilia, Squamata). Zootaxa 2244: 1-50 - get paper here
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. & V. Wallach 1996. A remarkable new worm snake (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae) from the East African Coast. Copeia 1996 (1): 162-166 - get paper here
  • Broadley, Donald G. & Wallach, V. 2007. A revision of the genus Leptotyphlops in northeastern Africa and southwestern Arabia (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae). Zootaxa 1408: 1–78 - 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
  • Spawls, S.; Howell, K.; Drewes, R.C. & Ashe, J. 2002. A field guide to the reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, 543 pp. [reviews in HR 34: 396 and Afr. J. Herp. 51; 147] - get paper here
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
  • Stuart, Simon N; Flora J Magige, Olivier Hamerlynck, William D Newmark, Flora Stephano, Steven Spawls, Cuthbert Nahonyo, Yunus D Mgaya, David C Moyer & Charles Msuya 2023. Tribute to Kim Monroe Howell (1945–2022). African Zoology - get paper here
  • Trape, J.-F. & Mané, Y. 2006. Guide des serpents d’Afrique occidentale. Savane et désert. [Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger]. IRD Editions, Paris, 226 pp. - get paper here
  • 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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