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Madatyphlops eudelini HAWLITSCHEK, SCHERZ, WEBSTER, INEICH & GLAW, 2021

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Higher TaxaTyphlopidae (Madatyphlopinae), Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymMadatyphlops eudelini HAWLITSCHEK, SCHERZ, WEBSTER, INEICH & GLAW 2021 

Type locality: Type locality: 12.88177°S, 45.16921°E, 585 m a.s.l., on a trail in primary humid forest on the ascent of Mt. Benara from Bandrele, Mayotte (a French oversea department, Comoros Archipelago).  
TypesHolotype: ZSM 403/2014 (FGZC 4983), adult, sex undetermined, collected when apparently freshly dead on 15 October 2014 by R. Eudeline.
Paratype: ZSM 402/2014 (FGZC 4981), juvenile, sex undetermined, collected alive on 14 November 2014 by O. Hawlitschek, M.D. Scherz, C.Y.H. Wang-Claypool, L. Montfort, and R. Eudeline. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Madatyphlops eudelini sp. nov. is diagnosed by the following combination of characters: Maximum known total length 190.7 mm; dorsal coloration dark with a cream-white band of the width of two scale rows along the mid-venter; scales around midbody 24; total middorsal scales 414–418; subcaudal scales 15. Assigned to the genus Madatyphlops based on molecular genetic data, i.e., placement as sibling taxon of M. comorensis nested within the clade of Madatyphlops, and on the agreement of the morphological characters studied (Table 1) with the diagnosis of Madatyphlops given in Hedges et al. (2014), and Pyron and Wallach (2014) (Hawlitschek et al., 2021).

Comparisons: The following diagnosis is based on previously published comparative data (Renoult and Raselimanana, 2009; Wallach and Glaw, 2009; Wegener et al., 2013) and data collected for this study (Table 1). Madatyphlops eudelini sp. nov. differs from all other Comoran and most Malagasy species of blindsnakes (except several specimens of the M. microcephalus complex) by its dark dorsal coloration combined with a cream-white band of the width of two scale rows along the mid-venter, broader under chin and tail. It further differs from the syntopic Indotyphlops braminus by more scales around midbody (24 vs. 20), larger maximum total length (up to 191 mm vs. up to ca. 180 mm); and from the Malagasy Xenotyphlops grandidieri by more scales around midbody (24 vs. 20–22), dorsal coloration (black vs. pink), and head morphology (visible eyes vs. no eyes, lack of enlarged head plate, and skull morphology; Chretien et al., 2019). It differs from the other Madatyphlops species as follows: by more scales around midbody (24) from M. ocularis (20), M. microcephalus (20), M. reuteri (20), M. boettgeri (20–21), M. comorensis (22), M. domerguei (22), and several populations of the M. arenarius complex (20); and by fewer scales around midbody from M. andasibensis (24 vs. 26), M. decorsei (26–28), and some populations of M. mucronatus (24–28). Madatyphlops eudelini sp. nov. differs from M. rajeryi by dorsal coloration (black vs. yellowish-gray), smaller maximum total length (191 vs. 272 mm), and smaller midbody diameter (2.7–4.0 vs. 7.4 mm); from M. madagascariensis by a lower number of total middorsal scales (414–418 vs. 580), smaller maximum total length (191 vs. 410 mm), and the presence of distinct eyes (vs. invisible); from M. arenarius by dorsal coloration (black vs. pink), eye coloration (pale vs. black); and from M. mucronatus by a lower number of total middorsal scales (414–418 vs. 488–577), smaller maximum total length (191 vs. 418 mm), and smaller midbody diameter (2.7–4.0 vs. 3.0–8.5 mm). It differs from M. albanalis by smaller maximum total length (up to 191 mm vs. 270 mm), more scales around midbody (24 vs. 20), and rostral not protruding vs. strongly protruding. The geographical origin of M. albanalis and its assignment to Madatyphlops are dubious (Wallach et al., 2014). The attribution of M. cariei, which is known only from seven subfossil trunk vertebrae from Mauritius, is unclear, and we are unable to provide any diagnosis with the available data (Wallach et al., 2014).

There are no osteological descriptions of any other Madatyphlops species available. Therefore, we can compare the skull of the new species only to that of M. comorensis. From that species, it differs only subtly in the shape of the groove in the septomaxilla and in the concavities of the vidian canal in the basisphenoid (see above). The skulls of these snakes are highly conserved but show substantial ontogenetic shape change (Hawlitschek et al., 2021).

Color in life: Color in preservative dorsally and laterally overall dark brown. Scales transparent. Venter with cream-white medial band of the width of two scale rows, broadening under head and tail (Hawlitschek et al., 2021).

CommentSimilar species: The only other known typhlopoid snake from Mayotte is Indotyphlops braminus. 
EtymologyThe species epithet is a patronym in honor of Rémy Eudeline, with the last letter removed for better pronunciation. Rémy is a high school teacher of sciences, parataxonomist, and then-resident of Mayotte, who found the holotype specimen during his first visit to the type locality, after the first author of this publication failed to observe this species in more than ten surveys of the same locality. 
  • Hawlitschek, O., Scherz, M. D., Webster, K. C., Ineich, I., & Glaw, F. 2021. Morphological, osteological, and genetic data support a new species of Madatyphlops (Serpentes: Typhlopidae) endemic to Mayotte Island, Comoros Archipelago. The Anatomical Record 2021: 1-15 - get paper here
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