Leptotyphlops ionidesi, Published, 2007

Published, First, 2007, A revision of the genus Leptotyphlops in northeastern Africa and southwestern Arabia (Serpentes: Leptotyphlopidae), Zootaxa 1408, pp. 1-78: 27-28

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Leptotyphlops ionidesi

sp. nov.

Leptotyphlops ionidesi   sp. nov. ( Plate 8, Fig. 3)

Ionides' worm snake

Leptotyphlops longicaudus   — Loveridge, 1942: 260 (Mbanja), 1951: 187 (Liwale), 1957: 246 (part); Broadley, 1971: 28; Broadley & Watson, 1976: 487 (part); Hahn, 1980: 19 (part); McDiarmid et al., 1999: 34 (part); Spawls et al, 2002: 304 (part).

Holotype. MCZ 57440 View Materials Liwale , Southern Province, Tanzania (09°47’S, 38°00’E, elevation 600 m), collected by C. J. P. Ionides (field no. 8333), 27 April 1958. GoogleMaps  

Paratypes. MCZ 50069 View Materials , a male from Liwale , Tanzania, collected by C. J. P. Ionides, 11 July 1948   ; MCZ 59175 View Materials Liwale , Tanzania, collected by C. J. P. Ionides, 3 June 1958   ; MCZ 18179 View Materials Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (06°51’S, 30°18’E), collected by A. Loveridge, 4 December 1922 GoogleMaps   ; MCZ 18180 View Materials –81 View Materials Lumbo , Nampula Province, Mozambique (15°02’S, 40°41’E, near sea level), collected by A. Loveridge, 1 August 1918 GoogleMaps   ; MCZ 48043 View Materials –4 View Materials Mbanja , Lindi District, Tanzania (9°24’S, 39°45’E, 0–130 m), collected by A. Loveridge, 27 April 1939 GoogleMaps   ; BMNH 1966.908 & 1966.958 Newala , Tanzania (10°59’S, 39°18’E), collected by C.J.P. Ionides GoogleMaps   ; BMNH 1984.743 Kilwa District , Lindi Region, Tanzania, collected by C.J.P. Ionides, 10 January 1949   ; NMZB-UM 24638 Vinthukutu Forest Reserve , Malawi (10°23’S, 34°11’E), collected by D.G. Broadley, 23 November 1970 GoogleMaps   .

Diagnosis. A member of the Leptotyphlops longicaudus   species group, resembling L. longicaudus   but distinguished by a narrower rostral, small anterior supralabial, fewer subcaudals, absence of a beak and smaller size. It agrees in size with L. braccianii   , but differs in its much narrower rostral and higher subcaudal counts. Skull with a large frontoparietal foramen like L. cairi   .

Etymology. Named to commemorate C.J.P. Ionides, who collected the holotype and series of many other fossorial reptiles in Tanzania.

Description (paratype variations in parentheses). Body cylindrical, head narrower than neck and body, short thick tail that abruptly tapers to a thorn-like terminal spine.

Snout rounded, rostral narrow (0.33–0.40 head width, mean = 0.36), wider than nasals and extending to a line connecting anterior edge of eyes, a weak preoral groove present ventrally. Behind rostral, upper lip bordered by infranasal (nostril midway between rostral and supralabial along nasal suture), small anterior supralabial not reaching level of nostril, half as tall as infranasal and equal in width to it along lip, large ocular with eye near anterior edge, contacting postnasal, and moderate posterior supralabial. Supraoculars oblique, subequal to frontal, which is twice as broad as deep, subequal to postfrontal, and smaller than interoccipital and interparietal, which are subequal in size. Parietals transverse, equal in size to the enlarged occipitals, in contact with posterior supralabial. ( MCZ 50069 View Materials has the frontal enlarged laterally at the expense of the right supraocular, the parietals converge and almost meet behind the postfrontal, the occipitals meet at a point behind two juxtaposed interoccipitals). Temporal single. No mental.

Body covered with 14 rows of smooth, imbricate, subequal scales. Reduction to 10 rows on the tail takes place lateral to the broad, semilunar-shaped cloacal shield. Total middorsals 297 (265–306), subcaudals 36 (34–38).

Total length/diameter ratio 52 (60–75), total length/tail ratio 9.7 (8.6–10.0).

Middorsal five to seven scale rows lightly pigmented, tan, venter immaculate creamy-white.

Everted hemipenis of MCZ 18179 View Materials (SVL 112 mm, tail 12.5 mm, 36 subcaudals) resembles that of Psammophis   : organ single, filiform with slight taper distally, four subcaudals in length (1.0 mm long x 0.1 mm diameter), nude, lacking any ornamentation, sulcus simple, extending along posterior surface of organ.

Size. Largest specimen ( MCZ 59175 View Materials ) 134.5 + 15 = 149.5 mm.

Habitat. Miombo woodland.

Distribution. Southeastern Tanzania, northern Malawi and northern Mozambique, 0–130 m ( Plate 5).


Museum of Comparative Zoology














Leptotyphlops ionidesi

Published, First 2007

Leptotyphlops longicaudus

Spawls, S. & Howell, K. & Drewes, R. & Ashe, J. 2002: 304
McDiarmid, R. W. & Campbell, J. A. & Toure, T. A. 1999: 34
Hahn, D. E. 1980: 19
Broadley, D. G. & Watson, G. 1976: 487
Loveridge, A. 1942: 260