Telescopus dhara dhara ( Forsskål, 1775 ), dhara (Forsskal, 1775

Crochet, Pierre-André, Rasmussen, Jens B., Wilms, Thomas, Geniez, Philippe, Trape, Jean-François & Böhme, Wolfgang, 2008, Systematic status and correct nomen of the western North African cat snake: Telescopus tripolitanus (Werner, 1909) (Serpentes: Colubridae), with comments on the other taxa in the dhara-obtusus group, Zootaxa 1703 (1), pp. 25-46 : 38-40

publication ID 10.11646/zootaxa.1703.1.2

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Telescopus dhara dhara ( Forsskål, 1775 )


Telescopus dhara dhara ( Forsskål, 1775)

Junior synonyms

Tarbophis guentheri, Anderson, 1895 , Proceedings of the general meetings for scientific business of the Zoological Society of London 1895: 656. Name-bearing type(s): 6 syntypes, still extant: Natural History Museum (London) BMNH 1946.1 .2.32 (formerly from Lahej near Aden, collected by Col. Yerbury; BMNH 1946.1 .2.56 (formerly from Sheikh Othman near Aden, collected by Col. Yerbury; BMNH 1946.1 .4.86 & 87 (formerly & 114) from Hadramaut, collected by Dr. J. Anderson and BMNH 1946.1 .21.54 (formerly & 1946.1.7.21 (formerly from Muscat, collected by A.S.G. Jayakar. Type locality: Lahej (= Lahij) and Sheikh Othman (= Ash Shaykh Uthman) (both now in Yemen), Muscat (= Masqat) (now in Oman) and Hadramaut (= Hadramawt) (a region now in Yemen and Oman) .

Diagnosis. A mostly Arabian form of Telescopus with the following characters combination: head broad but longer than in obtusus , with square snout; head never darker than body; nearly always a pale Y on the pileus; no dark line along the upper edge of labials but each labial has a darker area along its posterior edge; body general coloration yellowish to orange-brown, grey-brown or grey in adults; dorsum with more than 50 dark blotches, usually poorly marked but separated by contrasting narrow (1 scale wide) pale transverse lines (sometimes two staggered half lines shifted from each others); flanks rather uniform, darker than pale line but paler than dark elements of dorsum; sometimes uniformly dark brown (picture in Leviton et al., 1992) or pale brown with well separated contrasting dark brown spots similar to the spotted form of obtusus (picture in Leviton et al., 1992); belly uniformly pale. Mid-body scale rows 21, occasionally 19 (23 according to Parker, 1949); ventral scales 228–259 in our limited sample (up to 274 according to Disi et al., 2001); subcaudal scales paired, 56–81 pairs in our small sample; anal entire in most specimens (83 % in Parker, 1949). 9–10 (sometime 8 on one side) upper labials, usually 9, of which three (usually 3, 4, 5), sometimes two on one side, touch the eye. See T. tripolitanus and T. gezirae for separation from these species, and obtusus and somalicus for separation from these taxa.

Distribution. The Arabian peninsula, mostly in the mountainous periphery ( Leviton et al., 1992), west to the Sinai peninsula (Baha el Din, 2006), north to Israel ( Werner, 1988) and Jordan ( Disi et al., 2001).

Specimens examined. ISRAEL: 50: Mitzpe Ramon [30.61°N / 34.80°E], MHNG 2613-017 View Materials , coll. A. Fürst GoogleMaps ; 51: Ein Gedi [31.45°N / 35.38°E], MHNG 1374-071 View Materials , coll. Mendelssohn. GoogleMaps YEMEN: 52: between Huth and al- Harf [16.30°N / 44.03°E], MHNG 2456-099 View Materials , coll. B. Schätti GoogleMaps ; 53: at-Tur [15.73°N / 43.18°E], MHNG 2582-004 View Materials & 005 & 006, coll. B. Schätti GoogleMaps ; 54: Wadi Zabid, 6 Km upstream from suq Kawlah (interpreted as 6 km upstream from Al Kawlah) [14.06°N / 43.65°E], MHNG 2547-031 View Materials , coll. A. Panchaud GoogleMaps ; 57: Abu Zaqer (= Abu Zahr), Al-Khawkhah [13.83°N / 43.23°E], MHNG 2554-025 View Materials GoogleMaps ; 58: between Al Mafraq (= Mafraq Al Mukha) and Al Mukha ( Mocca ), km 9 [13.33°N / 43.53°E], MHNG 2582-008 View Materials , coll. B. Schätti GoogleMaps & km 9.5 [13.33°N / 43.53°E], MHNG 2546-076 View Materials , coll. B. Schätti GoogleMaps ; 59: between at-Turbah and Taizz, km 19 [13.37°N / 44.06°E], MHNG 2582-007 View Materials , coll. B. Schätti GoogleMaps ; 60: ad-Dimnah, Al Jashaih, Wadi Warazan [13.41°N / 44.24°E], MHNG 2546-073 View Materials , coll. B. Schätti GoogleMaps ; 61: between ad Dali and Lahej (= Lahj = Lahaj = Lahij), km 8 [13.62°N / 44.75°E], MHNG 2546-074 View Materials , coll. B. Schätti GoogleMaps ; 62: Al Kirsh (Taizz – Lahej) [13.36°N / 44.49°E], MHNG 2546-075 View Materials , coll. B. Schätti GoogleMaps ; 63: Bir Ali [14.03°N / 48.34°E], MHNG 2593-032 View Materials , coll. B. Schätti GoogleMaps ; 64: Qusayr (= Qusei'ar ) [14.94°N / 50.34°E], MHNG 2582-010 View Materials , coll. B. Schätti GoogleMaps ; not mapped: “ Sayhut-ar-Raydah ” (interpreted as between Sayhut and Ar-Raydah, imprecise locality), MHNG 2582-009 View Materials , coll. B. Schätti ; not mapped: al-Harf, km 60 (imprecise locality), MHNG 2456-098 View Materials , coll. B. Schätti.

Telescopus dhara obtusus ( Reuss, 1834)

Coluber obtusus, Reuss, 1834 , Museum Senckenbergianum: Abhandlungen aus dem Gebiete der beschreibenden Naturgeschichte, von Mitgliedern der Senckenbergischen Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Frankfurt , M.: 137. Name-bearing type(s): Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum (Frankfurt) SMF 19664 View Materials , lectotype by subsequent designation of Mertens (1964). Type locality: Egypt.

Remarks on name-bearing type (s). The original type series includes at least the specimen illustrated in figure 1 of Savigny (1809): Reptiles (Suppléments), Pl. 5 in Illustrations de Description de l’Egypte [...] Histoire naturelle, T.1 and at least two specimens brought back from Egypt by Rüppell ( Reuss, 1834).

Diagnosis. An northern African form of Telescopus with the following characters combination: head broad, usually well separated from body, longer than in tripolitanus , shorter than in dhara , with sub-rectangular snout; head never darker than body; pileus uniform or with dark lines or spots; a dark longitudinal line along head side (along upper edge of supralabials) apparently present in life in all or most specimens but sometimes difficult to see in preserved specimens; supralabials pale before the eye, pale with dark upper edge after the eye; body coloration pale to dark, creamy-brown, olive-brown, yellowish- to orange-brown; dorsum either uniform or with more than 50 dark blotches, sometimes poorly marked but separated by contrasting narrow (1 scale wide) pale transverse lines as in dhara , sometimes with contrasting rectangular or oblique dark blotches (pale brown to dark brown); flanks rather uniform or, in the blotched morph, with two rows of dark spots, of similar coloration to the marks on dorsum; belly uniformly pale. Mid-body scale rows 21 – 23, most often 23 (up to 25 according to Parker, 1949); ventral scales 240–270 in our small sample (230 – 278 according to Parker, 1949), 61–87 paired subcaudal scales in our small sample (down to 57 according to Parker, 1949); anal plate usually divided ( Parker, 1949). 9–11 (sometime 8 on one side) upper labials, usually 10 or 11, of which three (usually 4, 5, 6), sometimes two on one side, touch the eye.

For separation from tripolitanus and gezirae see these species. Separated from dhara by differences in frequency of specimens with divided anal (common in obtusus , rare in dhara ), 22 or 23 dorsal scales rows (approx. 75% in obtusus , very rare in dhara ), and 10 or 11 supralabials (approx. 76% in obtusus , 6% in dhara ). None of these characters is diagnostic alone, but differences in head shape, body coloration and coloration pattern of head allow unambiguous assignment of all individuals that we seen in pictures or as specimens. For separation from somalicus, see that taxon below.

Note: there seems to be some geographical components in the variation in coloration. Most Egyptian specimens except in the south are uniform or weakly contrasted (own observation, Baha El Din pers. com.) while the blotched morph is apparently the most common form in extreme southern Egypt (pictures from Aswan and Gebel Elba) southward ( Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti) and in central Sahara (Southern Algeria, Chad).

Distribution. See Fig. 2 View FIGURE 2 . North-eastern and north-central Africa, from the north coast of Egypt west of Suez (Baha el Din, 2006) to southern Sudan, southern Somalia (and presumably northern Kenya), presumably across most of Ethiopia, Erithrea, Djibouti, and northern and central Somalia, west to eastern Chad. Populations in the mountains of southern Algeria are presumably isolated.

Specimens examined. EGYPT: 65: El Wasta (= Al Wasta ) [27.18°N / 31.22°E], ZFMK 50303 View Materials GoogleMaps ; 66: Gizeh [30.09°N / 31.21°E], SMF 21743 View Materials GoogleMaps ; 67: El Hammam , west of Alexandria [30.83°N / 29.38°E], MHNG 2429-082 View Materials GoogleMaps , coll. A. Hansen; 68: Mudiriyet al Tahrir , E of Sadat City [30.64°N / 30.77°E], MHNG 2429-083 View Materials GoogleMaps , coll. A. Hansen; not mapped: “ Egypt ”, MNHN 1857 View Materials & 5434 & 1991.1714, obtained from Delort de Gléon & MNHN 3808 View Materials & SMF 19664 View Materials (lectotype of obtusus ), coll. E. Rüppell & SMF 19665 View Materials & MHNG 1373-047 View Materials (received from F. Werner, originally NMW 16406 View Materials ) ; not mapped: “Upper Egypt ”, ZMB 5477 View Materials . SUDAN: 69: Gellabat (= Ra’s Al Fil ) [10.55°N / 25.00°E], MNHN 1932.0112 View Materials GoogleMaps ; 70: Boma (= Towot = Towoth ) [6.20°N / 34.42°E], MNHN 1997.6557 View Materials - 6558 View Materials GoogleMaps & 2001.0187, coll. Dr. Haxaire ( Haxaire & Ineich, 1999); 71: Erkowit [18.77°N / 37.12°E], ZFMK 35379-80 View Materials GoogleMaps ; 72: Torit [4.41°N / 32.57°E], ZFMK 30808 View Materials GoogleMaps ; 73: Sennar (= Sennaar ) [13.55°N / 33.63°E], ZMB 4323 View Materials GoogleMaps . ETHIOPIA: 74: Addis Ababa [9.03°N / 38.70°E], MNHN 1991.1731 View Materials GoogleMaps , received from Dr. Roger , December 1903 & MNHN 1903.0286 View Materials & ZMB 27459 View Materials . DJIBOUTI: 75: Djibouti [11.60°N / 43.14°E], ZFMK 54282 View Materials GoogleMaps ; 76: Obock [11.96°N / 43.29°E], MNHN 1986.1016 View Materials GoogleMaps , coll. Martin, 1902. CHAD: 77: Oum El Adam [17.20°N / 21.20°E], LACM 25310 View Materials GoogleMaps , coll. J. S. Edwards, 31/01/1960. ALGERIA: 78: Mertoutek, Hoggar [24.23°N / 5.53°E], ZFMK 42092 View Materials GoogleMaps ; 79: In Sebuk Oua Mellen, Immidir , [25.73°N / 4.56°E], photo P. Lluch in P. Geniez pictures collection; not mapped: Hoggar, MNHN 8727 View Materials GoogleMaps .

Telescopus dhara obtusus ?: SOMALIA: 80: Lugh (= Luug) [3.80°N / 42.55°E], BMNH 1946.1 .23.53, paralectotype of somalicus, coll. Capt V. Botego, provisionally included in obtusus GoogleMaps .


Forschungsinstitut und Natur-Museum Senckenberg


Naturhistorisches Museum, Wien


Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (Zoological Collections)


Royal British Columbia Museum - Herbarium