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Thamnosophis infrasignatus (GÜNTHER, 1882)

IUCN Red List - Thamnosophis infrasignatus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaPseudoxyrhophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymPtyas infrasignatus GÜNTHER 1882: 263
Dromicus baroni BOULENGER 1888
Liopholidophis thieli DOMERGUE 1972
Liopholidophis thieli — GLAW & VENCES 1994: 338
Liopholidophis infrasignatus — GLAW et al. 2001
Bibilava infrasignatus — GLAW et al. 2007
Thamnosophis infrasignatus — CADLE & INEICH 2008
Thamnosophis infrasignatus — WALLACH et al. 2014: 727 

Type locality: "Arkafana, Eastern Betsileo." Corrected to Ankafana, Betsileo by Boulenger, 1893a: 247.  
TypesLectotype, BMNH 1946.1.7.57 (BMNH 1882.2.25.57), a 920 mm female (W.D. Cowan), designated by Cadle, 1996a: 424. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Liopholidophis infrasignatus differs from members of the sexlineatus group in having 19-19-17 dorsal scale rows (vs. 17-17-15). It has a relatively short tail and low numbers of subcaudals compared to other members of the stumpffi group (Table 2). The dorsolateral light stripes are anteriorly on rows 5-6, by which infrasignatus differs from lateralis (rows 3-5) and stumpffi (rows 4-5). Epistibes differs from infrasignatus in having a relatively long tail and higher ventral and subcaudal counts (Table 2 and epistibes account). (Cadle 1996: 426).

Description. The following description is based on examinaton of 19 females and 11 males, including syntypes of Ptyas infrasignatus Giinther and the holotypes of Dromicus baroni Boulenger and Liopholidophis thieli Domergue; ranges of variation for size, tail proportions, and ventral and subcaudal counts incorporate data for L. thieli given by Domergue (1973:table II). Measurements, proportions, and scutellation are summarized in Table 2. Largest specimen the female lectotype (BMNH 1946.1.7.57),920 mm total length, 208 mm tail length (23% of total); largest male (BMNH 1946.17.58, a paralectotype), 727+ mm total length, incomplete tail 121+ mm. Proportional tail length not strongly sexually dimorphic, 23-27% of total length in males, 21-24% in females. Dorsal scales smooth, in 19-19-17 rows; 0-2 apical pits on different scales within an individual. Scale row reduction from 19 to 17 rows by fusion of rows 3 + 4 (occasionally loss of row 4, and one instance of 4 + 5 fusion) at the level of ventrals 78-94 (N = 18). Ventrals 146-156 in males, 144-161 in females. Anal plate divided. Subcaudals 66-81 in males, 62-73 in females. Eight (rarely seven) upper labials with 4-5 touching eye. Lower labials usually 10-10 (N = 22), with other variants being 8-8 (1), 9-9 (1), 9-10 (4), and 10-11 (2), the first pair in contact behind the mental, 1-5 (occasionally 1-4) touching an anterior genial, 5-6 (occasionally 4-5) touching a posterior genial. Anterior genials shorter than posterior genials. Loreal present. Preocular single. Temporals 2-1-2 (rarely 1 or 3 anterior or posterior temporals). Body slightly higher than wide; ventrolateral edge of body angulate. Head slightly wider than neck. Pupil round. Eye moderately large, its diameter slightly greater than the distance from eye to posterior edge of nostril (x = 1.21 ± 0.1; range = 1.06-1.44; N = 19). Scattered pits present on head scales, most consistently and densely on circumorbital scales and on prefrontals and nasal; in some specimens, they are liberally sprinkled over most of the head plates and supralabials except for the central parts of the parietals and frontal. (Cadle 1996: 426).

Coloration in Life (see Glaiv and Vences,1994:pl.349 [L."thieli"], which is similar to many specimens from the RNP). MCZ 180355 (female): Dorsum olive brown, with indistinct indication of golden dorsolateral stripes anteriorly. Black postocular bar to corner of mouth, crossing middle of last two supralabials (see Domergue, 1973:fig. 6). Venter dull grayish yellow (tending to grayish white), with thin black longitudinal markings tending to form lines midventrally and ventrolaterally. Black speckling on outer edges of ventrals. A few dorsolateral black specks forming roughly two longitudinal rows just behind head (ca. 5-10 cm). Upper labials whitish, suffused with brown anteriorly. Lower labials whitish. MCZ 180354 (male): Similar to MCZ 180355, but with orange wash on venter, especially posteriorly. Ventral dark marking forms midventral dark line on most of body and tail. The dorsal ground color in the RNP sample ranges from dull grayish to olive brown to rich golden brown. Some dorsal scales, especially medially on the anterior body, have white scale borders similar to those in stumpffi, epistibes, and lateralis; these do not appear as constant or as vivid in infrasignatus as in these other species. The postocular bar usually crosses the last two supralabials but sometimes ends on the penultimate one; often there is a separated extension on the ultimate supralabial (Figs. 23, 28) The dorsolateral light stripes may be evident primarily on the anterior part of the body, most of the body, or they may be rather indistinct. Most specimens have some indication of black spots dorsolaterally on the anterior trunk (usually occupying one dorsal scale or less); these usually fade by midbody but occasionally are present the length of the body. A ventral orangish wash is characteristic of many specimens. (Cadle 1996: 427). 
CommentSimilar species: L. stumpffi.

Synonymy: mostly after Cadle 1996: 424. 
  • Boulenger, G. A. 1888. Descriptions of new Reptiles and Batrachians from Madagascar. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (6) 1: 101-107. - get paper here
  • Cadle, J. E. 1996. Snakes of the genus Liopholidophis (Colubridae) from Eastern Madagascar: New species, revisionary notes, and an estimate of phylogeny. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 154 (5): 369-464. - get paper here
  • Cadle, John E. 2009. Sexual Dimorphism and Reproductive Biology in the Malagasy Snake Genus Liopholidophis (Lamprophiidae: Pseudoxyrhophiinae) Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. 60 (15): 461–502
  • Cadle, John E.; Ineich, Ivan. 2008. Nomenclatural status of the Malagasy snake genus Bibilava Glaw, Nagy, Franzen, and Vences, 2007: Resurrection of Thamnosophis Jan and designation of a lectotype for Leptophis lateralis Dumeril, Bibron, and Dumeril (Serpentes: Colubridae). Herpetological Review 39 (3):285-288 - get paper here
  • Domergue, C.A. 1972. Étude de trois serpents malgaches: Liopholidophis lateralis (D.&B.), Liopholidophis stumpffi (Boettger) et Liopholidophis thieli n. sp. Bull. Mus. natn. Hist. nat., Paris 103 (77): 1397-1412.
  • Glaw ,F. & Vences, M. 1994. A Fieldguide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Vences & Glaw Verlag, Köln (ISBN 3-929449-01-3)
  • Glaw, F., M. Franzen & M. Vences 2005. A new species of colubrid snake (Liopholidophis) from northern Madagascar. Salamandra 41 (1-2): 83-90 - get paper here
  • Glaw, F.; Nagy, Z.T.; Franzen, M. & Vences, M. 2007. Molecular phylogeny and systematics of the pseudoxyrhophiine snake genus Liopholidophis (Reptilia, Colubridae): evolution of its exceptional sexual dimorphism and descriptions of new taxa. Zoologica Scripta 36: 291–300 - get paper here
  • Günther,A. 1882. Ninth contribution to the knowledge of the fauna of Madagascar. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (5) 9: 262-266 - 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.
  • Zimmermann, H. 2001. Das erste “deutsche” Naturschutzgebiet in Madagaskar, der “Drachenbaum-Regenwald Maromiza bei Andasibe und seine Herpetofauna. Herpetofauna 23 (134): 28-34 - get paper here
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