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Lycophidion nanum (BROADLEY, 1968)

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymCryptolycus nanus BROADLEY 1968
Lycophidion nanum — BROADLEY 1996: 14
Lycophidion nanum — THOMAS & GRIESSEL 1999
Lycophidion nanus — SPAWLS et al. 2002: 265
Lycophidion nanum — WALLACH et al. 2014: 410 
DistributionC Mozambique, Zimbabwe, S Mozambique

Type locality: Xiluvo, Manica e Sofala District, Mozambique
at ca. 250 m.  
TypesHolotype: NMZB, previously UM 6988, an adult male. Collected byL. A. Balarin and D. G . Broadley,· 3rd December, 1963. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Nostril pierced in the middle of an entire nasal; no postnasal. Dorsal scales with single apical pits, in 17 rows, reducing to 15 rows about one head length before the vent; ventrals 151-161 in males, 160-164 in females; subcaudals 25-28 in males, 21-23 in females. Preocular 1; postoculars 1 or 2; temporals usually 1+2, rarely 1+1 or 0+2; supralabials 6-7 (8 on one side of 2 specimens, 5 on one side of NMZB-UM 20337), the 3rd and 4th (rarely 3rd, 4th and 5th or 2nd and 3rd) entering the orbit, infralabials 6 (rarely 5 or 7), the first four (rarely 5, or third excluded as on the left side of the holotype) in contact with the anterior sublinguals. Several specimens have unusual fusions: NMZB-UM 20702 has the postoculars and anterior temporal fused with supralabials 4 and 5 on both sides, NMZB-UM 6991 has the anterior temporal fused with the fifth supralabial on the right side and the posterior temporals fused with the scale on the nape. Skull short, without parietal crests (Broadley 1996: 15).

Dentition: maxillary 6 + 6 to 8; palatine 9; pterygoid 10-12; dentary 8 + 9 or 10. The anterior and posterior maxillary processes enclose a large foramen (Broadley 1996: 15).

Coloration: Blue-black, with a stippled white band round the snout and a little white stippling on the supralabials, temporals and apices of the lateral scale rows; chin and throat brownish, rest of ventrum blue-black (Broadley 1996: 15).

Size. Largest male (TMP 44257 Muda - Lamego, Mozambique) 210 + 27 = 237 mm; largest female (NMZB- UM 20337 - 20 km SE of Vila de Manica, Mozambique) 248 + 21 = 269 mm (Broadley 1996: 15). 
CommentBroadley (1996) synonymized Cryptolycus with Lycophidion. This species is extremely adapted to a burrowing life style and some studies suggest that it feeds exclusively on Chirindia, a genus of amphisbaenians. No information in Wallach (unpubl.). THOMAS & GRIESSEL 1999 is a web site.

Distribution: Map: Broadley 1996 
  • Broadley, D. & Blaylock 2013. The Snakes of Zimbabwe and Botswana. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 387 pp. [book review in Sauria 35 (2): 59 and Copeia 2014: 388] - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. 1968. The African Wolf Snakes (Serpentes, Colubridae): a new genus and species from Mozambique. Arnoldia (Rhodesia) 10 (4): 1-5
  • Broadley, D.G. 1996. A revision of the genus Lycophidion Fitzinger (Serpentes: Colubridae) in Africa south of the equator. Syntarsus 3: 1-33. - 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
  • 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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