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Limaformosa capensis (SMITH, 1847)

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: capensis: Cape File Snake
G: Gewöhnliche Feilennatter 
SynonymHeterolepis capensis SMITH 1847: 55
Heterolepis capensis SMITH 1849 — DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854: 426
Heterolepis Gueinzii PETERS 1874: 163
Heterolepis gueinzii — BOULENGER 1887: 178
Simocephalus capensis — BOULENGER 1893: 345
Simocephalus capensis — BOULENGER 1897: 374
Mehelya capensis capensis — RASMUSSEN 1981: 176
Mehelya capensis capensis — AUERBACH 1987: 158
Mehelya capensis capensis — BOYCOTT 1992
Mehelya capensis capensis — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 26
Mehelya capensis capensis — CHIRIO & INEICH 2006
Mehelya ‘capensis’ — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 486
Gonionotophis capensis — KELLY et al. 2011
Mehelya capensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 424
Gonionotophis capensis — LANZA & BROADLEY 2014
Gonionotophis capensis capensis — BATES et al. 2014: 360
Gonionotophis capensis — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 407
Limaformosa capensis — BROADLEY et al. 2018
Limaformosa capensis — MARQUES et al. 2018
Gonionotophis capensis — CHIPPAUX & JACKSON 2019: 210 
DistributionZimbabwe, S Mozambique, NE Namibia, N/SW Botswana, NE Republic of South Africa, Swaziland, Cameroon, Somalia, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Kenya, Republic of South Sudan (RSS), Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Congo (Brazzaville), Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Ethiopia

Type locality: “Eastern districts of Cape Colony”, South Africa (= Natal ?)

gueinzii: Type locality: Port Natal [= Durban], South Africa.  
TypesNeotype: BMNH 1891.9.15.9, designated by Broadley 2005. Holotype: present location unknown (fide WALLACH, pers. comm.), a 529 mm specimen (A Smith, 1834-1836), unlocated fide FitzSimons, 1937: 262. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Maxillary and dentary bones bent inwards anteriorly; the 7–10 anterior maxillary teeth increasing in size posteriorly and followed after a diastema by 13–19 very small teeth; anterior mandibular teeth increasing in size posteriorly, the eighth or ninth largest, all teeth firmly ankylosed and all rows replaced simultaneously. Head distinct from neck, more or less depressed; eye moderate, with vertically elliptical pupil; nostril very large. Body subtriangular; scales strongly keeled without apical pits, in 15–21 scale rows at midbody, those of the vertebral series enlarged and bicarinate (quadri-carinate in L. chanleri; Lanza & Broadley, 2014); ventrals 193–268 with a more or less distinct lateral keel. Tail moderate, subcaudals paired, 39–69. Hypapophyses developed throughout the vertebral column. Hemipenis bifurcating at subcaudal scale 6–7, retractor muscle at subcaudal scale 9–12, and the sulcus divides at subcaudal scale 6. Sequence divergence of Limaformosa differs from other file snake genera by 3.6– 5.4% for 16S, 9.2–13.0% for cyt b, and 1.1–1.3% for c-mos. Limaformosa is supported as sister to the clade containing the other three genera of file snakes.

Diagnosis: A large species with dorsal scales in 15 rows at midbody, vertebral scale row bicarinate, dorsal scale rows widely separated by interstitial skin, dorsals with a subserrate median keel with fragmented secondary keels; ventrals 193-224 without sexual dimorphism; anal entire; paired subcaudals 39-60 without sexual dimorphism. Supralabials 7, third and fourth entering orbit. Dark brown to black above, with vertebral scale row white and other dorsals white-tipped, venter white but outer ends of ventrals black [LANZA & BROADLEY 2014]. 
CommentSynonymy: partly after LANZA & BROADLEY 2014. In 2009 we added Mehelya grayi PETZOLD 1975 as a synonym of Gonionotophis capensis. However, the source of this name could never be traced, hence we deleted it from the synonymy in August 2015.

Distribution not corrected for the elevation of savorgnani and unicolor to full species status.

Type species: Heterolepis capensis SMITH 1847: 55 is the type species of the genus Limaformosa BROADLEY et al. 2018. 
EtymologyLima-formosa (Latin = file + beautifully formed). The name is in the feminine form. 
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