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Montivipera bornmuelleri (WERNER, 1898)

IUCN Red List - Montivipera bornmuelleri - Endangered, EN

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Higher TaxaViperidae, Viperinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Lebanon Viper
G: Libanesische Bergotter 
SynonymVipera bornmuelleri WERNER 1898: 218
Vipera lebetina bornmuelleri WERNER 1902
Daboia raddei bornmuelleri — OBST 1983: 233
Lachesis libanotica HEMPRICH 1827 (nomen nudum)
Vipera bornmülleri — ESTERBAUER 1985
Vipera xanthina bornmuelleri — GOLAY et al. 1993: 291
Vipera bornmuelleri — WELCH 1994: 121
Vipera (Montivipera) bornmuelleri — NILSON et al. 1999: 101
Vipera bornmuelleri — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 403
Montivipera bornmuelleri — GARRIGUES et al. 2005
Vipera (Montivipera) bornmuelleri — VENCHI & SINDACO 2006
Vipera (Montivipera) bornmuelleri — GRUBER 2009
Montivipera bulgardhaghica — PHELPS 2010
Montivipera bulgardhaghica — WALLACH et al. 2014: 458
Montivipera bornmuelleri — WALLACH et al. 2014: 458
Montivipera bornmuelleri — BAR et al. 2021 
DistributionLebanon, Israel, Syria

Type locality: “Libanon” (restricted by WERNER 1922)  
Reproduction(ovo-) viparous. 
TypesLectotype: lost, was ZSM (SLM) 1653 (lost), adult, collected by Bornüller, no date. Lectotype designation by Werner (1922). See also Franzen & Glaw 2007. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A species of viper within the Vipera xanthina species-group, characterized by having a much reduced dorsal pattern. This pattern is split up into small irregular bars and blotches, normally between 47 and 64 (^ = 52) on body. In young specimens the pattern is more similar to that in V. xanthina, while the central part of each dorsal blotch fades away during early growth, thus leaving only the dark edges of the blotches left. This results in an irregularly spotted or crossbanded pattern. Belly finely dotted without dark blotches. It is a species of small to medium size, often not exceeding 50 cm length in the wild, but can grow bigger. Midbody scale rows 23 or more rarely 21. Comparatively short tail with only 23 to 26 subcaudals in females and 28 to 31 in males, compared to more than 27 in female xanthina and between 30 and 37 in male xanthina. Further it differs from V. xanthina and V. wagneri in having a lower ventral count (142 to 153, x = 147.8 in females compared to between 148 and 169 in female xanthina and around 161 in female wagneri; and 144 to 152, x = 148.4, in males compared to between 151 and 167 in male xanthina). Vipera bornmuelleri often has three apicals (62 %) in contact with rostral while V. xanthina and V. wagneri has two. Supralabials nine on each side, while V. xanthina regularly has ten. Vipera bornmuelleri differs from V. bulgardaghica by not having the upper preocular in contact with nasal, in having 21 or more scales in first circumocular rings (counted together), and 25 or more in second rings (21 or less in first and 25 or less in second circumocular rings in V. bulgardaghica), and in having 2 scale rows between eye and supralabials (one in V. bulgardaghica). Vipera bornmuelleri is also separated from xanthina and bulgardaghica by having a higher number of intercanthals and inter-supraoculars (42 — 60 counted together, compared to between 30 and 50 in the latter two) (from Nilson & Andrén 1986: 42). 

Synonymy: Two specimens in Werner’s type series have been described as V. bulgardaghica by NILSON & ANDREN (1985) which is a synonym of Vipera xanthina (JOGER, pers. comm.).

Distribution: Has been erroneously reported from Jordan (e.g. by Harding and Welch 1980). For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013 and Bar et al. 2021. 
EtymologyNamed after Dr. Joseph Friedrich Nicolaus Bornmiiller (1862-1948), a German botanist and Director of the Herbarium, Weimar (1903-1938). 
  • Abi-Rizk, Alain; Mohamad Rima, Souad Hraoui Bloquet, Riyad Sadek, Yvonne Sleiman, Ziad Fajloun, and Walid Hleihel 2017. Lethal, Hemorrhagic, and Necrotic Effects of Montivipera bornmuelleri Venom. Current Herpetology Feb 2017, Vol. 36, No. 1: 58-62. - get paper here
  • Bar, A., Haimovitch, G. and Meiri, S. 2021. Field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Israel. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt Am Main. ISBN 9783-89973-120-0 - 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
  • Eppler, A. 2016. Auf der Suche nach der Libanesischen Bergotter (Montivipera bornmuelleri). Terraria-Elaphe 2016 (3): 52-54 - get paper here
  • Esterbauer, H. 1985. Zur Herpetofauna Südwestsyriens. Herpetofauna 7 (38): 23-34 - get paper here
  • Garrigues, Thomas; Catherine Dauga; Elisabeth Ferquel; Valérie Choumet and Anna-Bella Failloux 2005. Molecular phylogeny of Vipera Laurenti, 1768 and the related genera Macrovipera (Reuss, 1927) and Daboia (Gray, 1842), with comments about neurotoxic Vipera aspis aspis populations. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution <br />Volume 35 (1): 35-47 - get paper here
  • Geniez, Philippe 2018. Snakes of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Princeton University Press, 384 pp. - 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
  • Joger U 1983. Book Review: Harding & Welch, Venomous snakes of the world, Pergamon Press, 1980. Salamandra 19 (1-2): 99-102 - get paper here
  • Joger,U. & M. Meder. 1997. Taxonomic Resolution of the Vipera xanthina Complex. In: Herpetology '97, Abstracts of the Third World Congress of Herpetology 2-10 August 1997 Prague, Czech Republic, Rocek,Z. & S. Hart (eds.), 244 p.:106.
  • Mallow, D. Ludwig, D. & Nilson, G. 2003. True Vipers: Natural History and Toxinology of Old World Vipers. Krieger, Malabar, Florida, 410 pp. [review in HR 35: 200, Reptilia 35: 74]
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • 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
  • Mertens, R. 1967. Über Lachesis libanotica und den Status von Vipera bornmuelleri. Senckenbergiana biologica 48 (3): 153-159
  • Nilson G; Andren C 1985. Systematics of the Vipera xanthina complex (Reptilia: Viperidae). 3. Taxonomic status of the Bulgar Dagh viper in south Turkey. Journal of Herpetology 19 (2): 276-283 - get paper here
  • Nilson G; Andren C 1986. The mountain vipers of the Middle East - the Vipera xanthina complex (Reptilia: Viperidae). Bonner Zool. Monogr. 20: 1-90 - get paper here
  • Nilson G; Andren C; Flardh B 1990. Vipera albizona, a new mountain viper from central Turkey, with comments on isolating effects of the Anatolian 'Diagonal'. Amphibia-Reptilia 11(3): 285-294 - get paper here
  • Nilson,G.; TUNIYEV,B.; ANDRÉN,C.; ORLOV,N.; JOGER,U. & HERRMANN,H. W. 1999. Taxonomic position of the Vipera xanthina complex. Kaupia (Darmstadt) (8): 99-102
  • Obst, F.J. 1983. Zur Kenntnis der Schlangengattung Vipera. Zool. Abh. staatl. Mus. Tierkunde Dresden 38: 229-235
  • 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
  • Stümpel, N. 2007. Montivipera xanthina. Reptilia (GB) (51): 43-46 - get paper here
  • Stümpel, Nikolaus; Mehdi Rajabizadeh, Aziz Avcı, Wolfgang Wüster, Ulrich Joger 2016. Phylogeny and diversification of mountain vipers (Montivipera, Nilson et al. 2001) triggered by multiple Plio-Pleistocene refugia and high-mountain topography in the Near and Middle East. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2016.04.025 - 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, FRANZ 1898. Über einige neue Reptilien und einen neuen Frosch aus dem cilicischen Taurus. Zool. Anz. 21 (555): 217-223. - get paper here
  • Werner, FRANZ 1902. Die Reptilien- und Amphibienfauna von Kleinasien. Sitzungsber. K. Akad. Wiss. (math.-Naturw. Klasse 1) 111: 1057-1121
  • Werner,F. 1922. Synopsis der Schlangenfamilien der Amblycephalidae und Viperidae nebst Uebersicht über die kleineren Familien und die colubriden der Acrochordinengruppe auf Grund des Boulengerschen Schlangenkatalogs (1893-1896). Archiv für Naturgeschichte 8A: 185-244
  • Werner,F. 1939. Die Amphibien und Reptilien von Syrien. Abh. Ber. Mus. Naturkunde Vorgesch. Magdeburg 7:211-223.
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