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Madatyphlops boettgeri (BOULENGER, 1893)

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Higher TaxaTyphlopidae (Madatyphlopinae), Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Sand Worm Snake 
SynonymTyphlops boettgeri BOULENGER 1893: 39
Typhlops boettgeri — WALLACH & GLAW 2009
Typhlops boettgeri — WALLACH et al. 2014
Madatyphlops boettgeri — HEDGES et al. 2014 
DistributionSW Madagascar

Type locality: “S. W. Madagascar”  
TypesSyntypes: BMNH 1946.1.11.98–99, BMNH 1946.1.12.1–4 (formerly BMNH 1892.11.26.1–6), longest syntype 220 mm (Last). 
CommentTyphlops boettgeri Boulenger (1893) was recognized as a valid species until 1958 when it was synonymized with T. arenarius by Guibé. These two taxa are perhaps sibling species because they are very similar with considerable variation and overlap in many characters. Typhlops boettgeri exhibits 20–21 midbody scale rows, T. arenarius has 20–24 midbody rows, T. mucronatus has 24–26 midbody rows, and T. decorsei has 26–28 midbody rows; none of the remaining species in Madagascar varies in midbody scale rows.

Typhlops boettgeri and T. arenarius are known to be sympatric from at least four localities (Andrahomana, Mahafaly, Tsimanapetsotsa, and Vohisandria: see Appendix). Typhlops boettgeri can be distinguished from T. arenarius by the following characters: coloration (bicolored with distinct separation of dorsal and ventral colors vs. unicolored), lateral head shape (not depressed and domed vs. depressed and obtusely pointed), dorsal rostral shape (circular vs. parallel), lateral rostral shape (angled vs. curved), position of eyes (prefrontal vs. frontal-prefrontal suture), “X”-shaped cross on head dorsum (absent vs. present), body proportion (< 50 vs. > 50), lateral tongue papillae (present vs. absent), anterior liver lobe extension (0–4% vs. 15–25%), right systemic arch junction craniad of heart tip (5–6% vs. 3–4%), total lung midpoint (29–35% vs. 28–29%), right lung midpoint (40–46% vs. 38–39%), posterior tip of lung (50–62% vs. 47–49%), and total kidney length (8–9% vs. 5–7%). WALLACH & GLAW (2009) therefore do not recognize the synonymy of T. boettgeri and T. arenarius and consider Typhlops boettgeri to be a valid species. 
EtymologyNamed after Professor Dr. Oskar Boettger (or Böttger) (1844-1910), a German zoologist who specialized in herpetology and malacology. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • D'Cruze, Neil; Annette Olsonn, David Henson, Sunil Kumar, and David Emmett. 2009. The Amphibians and Reptiles of the Lower Onilahy River Valley, a Temporary Protected Area in Southwest Madagascar. Herp. Cons. Biol. 4: 62-79 - get paper here
  • Glaw ,F. & Vences, M. 1994. A Fieldguide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Vences & Glaw Verlag, Köln (ISBN 3-929449-01-3)
  • Grandidier, A. 1872. Descriptions de quelques Reptiles nouveaux découverts á Madagascar en 1870. Annales des Sciences Naturelles, Zoologie et Paléontologie 15 (5): 6-11. - get paper here
  • Guibé ,J. 1958. Les serpents de Madagascar. Memoires de l’Institut Scientifique de Madagascar 12: 189-260
  • 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
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • Wallach, V. & Glaw, F. 2009. A new mid-altitude rainforest species of Typhlops (Serpentes: Typhlopidae) from Madagascar with notes on the taxonomic status of T. boettgeri Boulenger, T. microcephalus Werner, and T. capensis Rendahl. Zootaxa 2294: 23–38 - get paper here
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