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Micrelaps vaillanti (MOCQUARD, 1888)

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Higher TaxaLamprophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Black-headed Micrelaps, Somali Two-headed Snake 
SynonymElaposchema vaillanti MOCQUARD 1888: 123
Calamelaps vaillanti — BOETTGER 1893: 117
Micrelaps vaillanti — BOULENGER 1896: 249
Micrelaps boettgeri BOULENGER 1896: 13
Rhinocalamus meleagris STERNFELD 1908: 244
Micrelaps nigriceps STERNFELD 1910
Rhinocalamus meleagris — ANGEL 1925
Micrelaps boettgeri — SCORTECCI 1929: 278
Micrelaps vaillanti — DE WITTE & LAURENT 1947
Micrelaps boettgeri — DE WITTE & LAURENT 1947
Micrelaps boettgeri — LOVERIDGE 1955
Micrelaps boettgeri — LOVERIDGE 1955
Micrelaps boettgeri — LANZA 1983
Micrelaps boettgeri — LANZA 1983
Micrelaps boettgeri — LARGEN & RASMUSSEN 1993
Micrelaps boettgeri — SPAWLS et al. 2002: 436
Micrelaps boettgeri — RASMUSSEN 2002
Micrelaps vaillanti — RASMUSSEN 2002
Micrelaps vaillanti — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 586
Micrelaps vaillanti — WALLACH et al. 2014: 438
Micrelaps vaillanti — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 459 
DistributionSomalia, E Ethiopia, Kenya, N Tanzania

Type locality: S Somalia

boettgeri: E Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda; Type locality: “Dolo”  
Reproductionoviparous 
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 1884.0696
Holotype: MSNG 29058, a 235 mm female (E. Ruspoli, 1893) [boettgeri] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Dorsum brown or greyish, each scale usually with a central or apical pale spot, two lower rows of dorsals usually entirely pale; upper surface of head and neck dark brown or black, sometimes separated by a pale collar in juveniles. First pair of infralabials in contact behind mental. Posterior pair of chin-shields usually in contact. Fifth supralabial often in contact with parietal (Rasmussen 2002).

Lepidosis. Snout index 0.4-1.0; internasal!prefrontal index 0.2-1.0; frontal! supraocular index 1.4-2.3. A loreal is present on the right side in a single specimen;
postoculars invariably 1; temporals 1+1; supralabials 7, third and fourth, rarely fifth (type vaillanti) entering eye, fifth usually in contact with parietal; infralabials 7 (sometimes 6, rarely 8), 4 (rarely 3) on each side in contact with the anterior chin-shield; chin-shields in two pairs, the posterior ones usually in contact; preventrals 1-2. Dorsal scales smooth, without apical pits, in 15-15-15 rows.
Scale row reduction formula (tail):
8(2-4) - 6(6-16) - 4(16-26) - 2(23-29) males (N = 16)
8(2-4) - 6(4-11) - 4(07-20) - 2(16-25) females (N = 18)
Ventrals rounded, 170-224 in males, 195-253 in females; anal divided (entire in a single specimen); subcaudals in pairs, 23-30+1 in males, 18-25+1 in females (Rasmussen 2002).

Boulenger (1896) notes that “This species [boettgeri] differs from M. vaillanti, Mocq., in the third and fourth labials only entering the eye, the fifth separating the postocular from the anterior temporal, the rostral more produced above, and in the higher number of ventral shields”. [ventrals 203-221]. 
CommentVenomous!

Synonymy: Micrelaps boettgeri BOULENGER 1896 is synonymous to M. vaillanti according to RASMUSSEN (2002). BOULENGER (1888: 13) noted in the Zoological Record that the genus Elaposchema is synonymous to Calamelaps. 
EtymologyMicrelaps vaillanti was named after Leon Louis Vaillant (1834-1914), a French zoologist, herpetologist, ichthyologist, and malacologist at Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris. He was on several French naval expeditions (1880-1883).

M. boettgeri was named after Oskar Boettger (1844-1910), herpetologist at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt am Main.
 
References
  • Angel, Fernand 1925. Résultats Scientifiques. Vertebrata. Reptiles et Batraciens. [Mabuia (Mabuiopsis) jeanneli, Lygosoma graueri quinquedigitata, Ablepharus massaiensis]. In: Voyage de Ch. Alluaud et R. Jeannel en Afrique Orientale (1911-1912). - Paris, 2: 1-63.
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Boettger,O. 1893. Übersicht der von Prof. C. Keller anlässlich der Ruspoli'schen Expedition nach den Somaliländern gesammelten Reptilien und Batrachier. Zool. Anz. 16 (416): 113-119 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. A list of the reptiles and batrachians collected by the late Prince Eugenio Ruspoli in Somaliland and Gallaland in 1893. Annali Mus. civ. Stor. nat. Genova, Giacomo Doria, (2) 17: 5-14 [11] - get paper here
  • Gower, D.; Garrett, K. & Stafford, P. 2012. Snakes. Firefly Books, Buffalo, NY,<br />144 p..
  • Lanza, B. 1983. A list of the Somali amphibians and reptiles. MONITORE ZOOLOGICO ITALIANO, new Ser., SUPPL. 18 (8): 193-247 - get paper here
  • Lanza, B. 1990. Amphibians and reptiles of the Somali Democratic Republic: check list and biogeography. Biogeographia, 14: 407-465 [1988] - get paper here
  • Largen, M.J.; Spawls, S. 2010. Amphibians and Reptiles of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 694 pp.
  • Largen,M.J. & Rasmussen,J.B. 1993. Catalogue of the snakes of Ethiopia (Reptilia Serpentes), including identification keys. Tropical Zoology 6: 313-434 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1956. On snakes collected in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan by J.S. Owen, Esq. Sudan Notes Rec. 36: 37-56 [1955]
  • Mocquard, F. 1888. Sur une collection de reptiles et de batraciens rapportés des pays comalis et de Zanzibar par M. G. Révoil. Mémoires Publies par la Société Philomathique a l’occasion du Centenaire de sa fondation 1788—1888, Paris, pp. 109—134.
  • Pitman,C.R.S. 1974. A guide to the snakes of Uganda. Codicote, Wheldon & Wesley, L., 290 pp.
  • 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
  • Rasmussen, Jens Bødtker 2003. Geographic distribution. Micrelaps vaillanti (Mocquard 1888) Desert Black-headed Snake. African Herp News (36):12-13. - get paper here
  • Scortecci, G. 1929. Primo contributo alla conoscenza dei Rettili e degli Anfibi della Somalia italiana. Atti Soc. ital. Sci. nat. 68: 245-279
  • 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
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
  • Sternfeld, R. 1908. Neue und ungenügend bekannte afrikanische Schlangen. S. Ber. Ges. naturforsch. Freunde Berlin, 4: 92-95 - get paper here
  • Sternfeld, R. 1910. Neue Schlangen aus Kamerun, Abessynien und Deutsch-Ostafrika. Mitt. zool. Mus. Berlin 5: 67-70 - 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.
  • 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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