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Myriopholis cairi (DUMÉRIL & BIBRON, 1844)

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Higher TaxaLeptotyphlopidae, Leptotyphlopinae, Myriopholini, Typhlopoidea, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Cairo Blind Snake 
SynonymStenostoma cairi DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1844: 323
Glauconia fitzingeri JAN 1861: 189
Stenostoma Fitzingeri JAN 1861
Glauconia cairi — BOULENGER 1890
Glauconia cairi — BOULENGER 1893: 65
Glauconia fitzingeri — BOULENGER 1893: 66
Glauconia cairi — STEINDACHNER 1901
Leptotyphlops cairi — PARKER 1932: 362
Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus bilmaensis ANGEL 1936
Leptotyphlops cairi — GANS et al. 1965
Leptotyphlops cairi — HAHN & WALLACH 1998
Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus bilmaensis — HAHN 1980: 20
Leptotyphlops fitzingeri — HAHN 1980: 14
Leptotyphlops cairi — LARGEN & RASMUSSEN 1993
Leptotyphlops cairi — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 25
Leptotyphlops cairi — BROADLEY & WALLACH 2007: 24
Leptotyphlops cairi — GRUBER 2009
Myriopholis cairi — WALLACH et al. 2014: 463 
DistributionEgypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan (Jumhūriyyat), Somalia, Niger, Mauritania

bilmaensis: Niger

Type locality: Le Caire, Egypte.  
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 3231 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Snout rounded in lateral view, but with a weak preoral concavity on the rostral; interparietal occasionally longitudinally divided; occipitals usually not fused. Middorsals 322–30; subcaudals 28–35; total length/diameter ratio 59–11; total length/tail length ratio 12.3–16.2. Skull with a large frontoparietal foramen. (Broadley & Wallach 2007)

Description. Body cylindrical, with head slightly depressed, the moderate tail tapers to a small downturned terminal spine.
Snout rounded in dorsal profile, rostral moderate (0.36–0.46 head width, mean = 0.41), wider than nasals and barely reaching level of eyes. Lateral snout profile bluntly projecting beyond lower lip with an incipient beak, ventral rostral with a moderate preoral groove. Behind rostral, upper lip bordered by infranasal (nostril midway between rostral and supraocular along nasal suture), small anterior supralabial that is less than half as tall as infranasal, below level of nostril, and equal in width to it along lip, large ocular with eye placed centrally in upper half, and moderate posterior supralabial. Supraoculars about as long as wide, anteriorly wedged between supranasal and ocular, posteriorly wedged between the subequal hexagonal frontal and postfrontal, which are a little smaller than the interparietal and interoccipital. Parietals transverse, in contact with the posterior supralabials. Occipitals variable, usually fused but thinner and narrower than parietals. Temporal single. No mental, five infralabials. Tongue lacking lingual papillae.
Body covered with 14 rows of smooth, imbricate, subequal scales, reducing to 10 rows on the tail. Mid-dorsals 322–370; subcaudals 28–35.
Total length/diameter ratio 59–117; total length/tail length ratio 12.3–16.2.
Three to seven dorsal scale rows pigmented pale brown or pinkish-brown (scales cream with brown stippling), venter cream to pale yellow.
Everted hemipenis of CAS 18145 (SVL 134.5 mm, tail 15 mm, 37 subcaudals) smooth and nude, filiform
like Psammophis with bulbous base and narrow, slightly tapering organ, three subcaudals in length, sulcus simple, extending along ventral surface of organ. (Broadley & Wallach 2007)

Size. Largest southern specimen (BMNH 1905.11.7.41 — Wagar, Somalia) 183 mm, but attaining a maximum length of 254 mm in Egypt (FMNH 129894 — Cairo). (Broadley & Wallach 2007) 
CommentDistribution: Not listed in SCHLEICH, KÄSTLE & KABISCH 1996. Not verified records from Libya fide Bauer et al. 2017. Not in East Africa (i.e. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi fide S. Spawls, pers. comm., 28 June 2018). For a map see Sindaco et al. 2013.

Synonymy: partly after Trape 2002. Glauconia braccianii SCORTECCI 1929, a former synonym of L. cairi, has been elevated to full species status.

Habitat. This species inhabits moist cultivated areas, being replaced by Leptotyphlops macrorhynchus in adjacent sandy desert areas, and is found in close proximity to L. macrorhynchus in the lower Nile Valley near Cairo, Egypt (Baha el Din, 2006). 
EtymologyNamed after the city of Cairo. 
  • Abdeen, A.M., Abo-Taira, A.M. & Zaher, M.M. 1991. Further studies on the Ophidian cranial osteology: the skull of the Egyptian Blind Snake Leptotyphlops cairi (family Leptotyphlopidae). I. The cranium. B. The otic capsule, palate and temporal bones. Journal of the Egyptian-German Society of Zoology (Giza), 5(5), 439–455
  • Abdeen, A.M., Abo-Taira, A.M. & Zaher, M.M. 1991. Further studies on the Ophidian cranial osteology: the skull of the Egyptian Blind Snake Leptotyphlops cairi (family Leptotyphlopidae). I. The cranium. A. the median dorsal bones, bones of the upper jaw, circumorbital series and occipital ring. Journal of the Egyptian-German Society of Zoology (Giza), 5(5), 417–437
  • Abdeen, A.M., Abo-Taira, A.M. & Zaher, M.M. 1991. Further studies on the Ophidian cranial osteology: the skull of the Egyptian Blind Snake Leptotyphlops cairi (family Leptotyphlopidae). II. The lower jaw and the hyoid apparatus. Journal of the Egyptian-German Society of Zoology (Giza), 5(5), 457–467
  • Adalsteinsson, S.A.; Branch, W.R.; Trapé, S.; Vitt, L.J. & Hedges, S.B. 2009. Molecular phylogeny, classification, and biogeography of snakes of the Family Leptotyphlopidae (Reptilia, Squamata). Zootaxa 2244: 1-50 - get paper here
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