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Micrelaps muelleri BOETTGER, 1880

IUCN Red List - Micrelaps muelleri - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: English common name not available
G: Erdviper 
SynonymMicrelaps muelleri BOETTGER 1880: 137
Micrelaps muelleri — DE WITTE & LAURENT 1947
Micrelaps moelleri — DISI 1985 (fide ZOOLOGICAL RECORD)
Micrelaps muelleri — BISCHOFF & SCHMIDTLER 1997
Micrelaps muelleri — VENCHI & SINDACO 2006
Micrelaps tchernovi WERNER in WERNER et al. 2006
Micrelaps tchernovi — WALLACH et al. 2014: 438
Micrelaps muelleri — WALLACH et al. 2014: 438
Micrelaps muelleri — MEIRI et al. 2019
Micrelaps tchernovi — MEIRI et al. 2019
Micrelaps muelleri — JAMISON et al. 2020 
DistributionIsrael, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon

Type locality: near Jerusalem, Israel.

tchernovi: Israel, Jordan; Type locality: central Jordan Valley  
TypesLectotype: SMF 20349 (catalogue Boettger 9249a), paralectotype: NMBA 2129 (catalogue Boettger 9249, MERTENS 1967).
Holotype: HUJ 16864, female [tchernovi] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (tchernovi). A Micrelaps differing from M. muelleri in that the black cross-bands fail to reach the ventraIs, being saddle-like (in M. muelleri the cross-bands form rings); higher average number of cross-bands - 58 (in M. muelleri 45); and usually they are less wide than the light intervals (in M. muelleri usually wider than the intervals). Ventral colouration uniformly black throughout most of the body and tail (in M. muelleri at least some of the black rings are noticed also ventrally) [from WERNER et al. 2006].

Diagnsois (genus): “Wie bei der Gattung Elapomorphus ist das Auge auffällig klein und mit runder Pupille versehen ; die Nasenöffnung durchbohrt die Mitte eines einzeigen Nasalschilds und das Frenale fehlt. Abweichend von dieser Gattung aber fehlt bei Micrelaps das Praeoculare, und die Postfrontalen treten rechts und links mit dem Rand des 3. Supralabiale in Contact. Ein kleines Postoculare; 1 +2 Temporalen. 7 Supralabialen, 7 Infralabialen, von denen 5 die zwei Paar gleichgrossen Submentalen berühren. 15 Reihen glatter Schuppen; Anale uud Subcaudalen getheilt.” (Boettger also uses dentition in his diagnosis, not mentioned here) (Boettger 1880: 136).

BOULENGER (1896) defined the genus as follows: maxillary very short, with two [three] teeth followed, after an interspace, by one [two] very large grooved fang[s] situated below the eye; anterior mandibular teeth longest. Head small, not distinct from neck; eye minute, with round or vertically subelliptic pupil [only from type description of preserved M. vaillanti]; nostril in a single nasal; no loreal [very rarely 1], no preocular; prefrontal entering the eye. Body cylindrical; scales smooth, without apical pits, in 15 rows; ventrals rounded. Tail short; subcaudals in two rows (from Rasmussen 2002, with amendments by him). 

Synonymy: Jamison et al. 2020 synonymized Micrelaps tchernovi with M. muelleri.

Taxonomy: BISCHOFF & SCHMIDTLER 1997 classify this species as a member of the family Atractaspididae while most others (like AMR et al. 1997) consider it as a colubrid). Recent phylogenetic analyses show that Micrelaps is not closely related with other members of the Aparallactinae, hence it is considered as of unknown affinity (incertae sedis) by most recent authors (e.g. Portillo et al. 2018).

Type species: Micrelaps muelleri BOETTGER 1880 is the type species of the genus Micrelaps BOETTGER 1880.

Distribution: For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013. 
EtymologyNamed after Friedrich Müller (1834-1895) who worked as physician and zoologist in Basel.

M. tchernovi wasnamed after the collector of the holotype, Prof. Eitan Tchernov, 16 September 1935 - 13 December 2002, co-founder of the Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 
  • Amr, Zuhair S; Disi, Ahmad M; Al Melhim, Walid N 1997. Additions to the knowledge of Muller's snake, Micrelaps muelleri Boettger, 1880. (Squamata: Serpentes: Colubridae). Herpetozoa 10 (3-4): 163-168 - get paper here
  • Bar, Aviad and Guy Haimovitch 2012. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Israel. Pazbar LTD, 246 pp. - 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
  • Bischoff,W. & J.F. Schmidtler 1997. Nach 115 Jahren in Syrien wiedergefunden: Micrelaps muelleri Böttger, 1880 (Serpentes: Atractaspididae). Salamandra 33 (1): 25-32 - get paper here
  • Boettger, O. [as O. Böttger] 1880. Die Reptilien und Amphibien von Syrien, Palaestina und Cypern. Ber. Senckenb. Naturforsch. Ges., Frankfurt/M., 1879-1880: 132-219 - get paper here
  • Disi, A M 1985. A contribution to the herpetofauna of Jordan. 2. New records and a systematic list of snakes from Jordan. The Snake 17 (1): 31-42
  • Disi, A.M.; Modry, D.; Necas, P. & Rifai, L. 2001. Amphibians and reptiles of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 408 pp.
  • Goldberg, Stephen R. and Anat Feldman. 2014. Micrelaps muelleri (erdviper) reproduction. Herpetological Review 45 (3): 518 - get paper here
  • Gruber, U. 2009. Die Schlangen Europas, 2. Aufl. Kosmos Naturführer, 266 pp.
  • Hraoui-Bloquet, S.; Sadek, R.A.; Sindaco, R. & Venchi, A. 2002. The herpetofauna of Lebanon: new data on distribution. Zoology in the Middle East 27: 35-46 - get paper here
  • JAMISON, SIMON; EREZ MAZA, GUY SINAIKO, KARIN TAMAR, ALEX SLAVENKO, SHAI MEIRI 2020. To be or not to be tchernovi: a taxonomic revision of the snake genus Micrelaps (Squamata: Serpentes), in Israel. Zootaxa 4881 (2): 290–306 - get paper here
  • Meiri, Shai; Amos Belmaker, Daniel Berkowic, Kesem Kazes, Erez Maza, Guy Bar-Oz and Roi Dor 2019. A checklist of Israeli land vertebrates. Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution - get paper here
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Portillo, F., Branch, W.R., Conradie, W., Rödel, M-O., Penner, J., Barej, M.F., Kusamba, C., Muninga, W.M., Aristote, M.M., Bauer, A.M., Trape, J-F., Nagy, Z.T., Carlino, P., Pauwels, O.S.G., Menegon, M., Burger, M., Mazuch, T., Jackson, K., Hughes, 2018. Phylogeny and biogeography of the African burrowing snake subfamily Aparallactinae (Squamata: Lamprophiidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution - get paper here
  • Rasmussen, J. B. 2002. A review of the African members of the genus Micrelaps Boettger 1880 (Serpentes Atractaspididae). Tropical Zoology 15: 71-87 - get paper here
  • Sindaco, R.; Alberto Venchi & Cristina Grieco 2013. The Reptiles of the Western Palearctic, Volume 2: Annotated Checklist and Distributional Atlas of the Snakes of Europe, North Africa, Middle East and Central Asia, with an Update to Volume 1. Edizioni Belvedere, Latina (Italy), 543 pp. - get paper here
  • Venchi, Alberto and Roberto Sindaco 2006. Annotated checklist of the reptiles of the Mediterranean countries, with keys to species identification. Part 2 -Snakes (Reptilia, Serpentes). Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale "G. Doria", Genova, XCVIII: 259-364
  • 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.
  • Werner, Y.L.; Babocsay, G.; Carmely, H. & Thuna, M. 2006. Micrelaps in the southern Levant: variation, sexual dimorphism, and a new species (Serpentes: Atractaspididae. Zoology in the Middle East 38: 29-48 - get paper here
  • Witte, G. F. de & LAURENT,R.F. 1947. Revision d'un groupe de Colubridae africains: genres Calamelaps, Miodon, Aparallactus, et formes affines. Mém. Mus. Roy. Hist. Nat. Belgique (sér. 2) 29: 1-134
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