Thursday, June 18, 2015

A preliminary revision of Asian Pipe Snakes, Cylindrophis

An undescribed pipe snake from Thailand (JCM) and a map 
showing the known taxa.
The Asian Pipe Snake of the Cylindrophiidae contains about ten species. These are burrowing, semi-aquatic snakes that are basal to most other living snakes. Linnaeus (1758) described Anguis maculata from Sri Lanka, Laurenti (1768) described Anguis ruffa described by Laurenti (1768). In 1818 Wagler established the  genus Cylindrophis based upon a type species from Java, Cylindrophis resplendens which was later synonymized with Cylindrophis ruffus by Schlegel (1844). Several additional taxa were described in the 19th and 20 centuries (e.g., Cylindrophis melanotus Wagler 1830, Cylindrophis lineatus Blanford 1881, Cylindrophis isolepis Boulenger 1896, Cylindrophis opisthorhodus Boulenger, 1897, Cylindrophis boulengeri Roux 1911, Cylindrophis aruensis Boulenger 1920, Cylindrophis celebensis Smith 1927, Cylindrophis heinrichi Ahl 1933, Cylindrophis engkariensis Stuebing 1994, Cylindrophis yamdena Smith and Sidik 1998) and one subspecies, Cylindrophis rufus burmanus, Smith 1943). Most taxa are endemic to one island or small island group with the exception of Cylindrophis ruffus which is widespread, in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Singapore, and several Indonesian islands including Sumatra, Borneo, Java, and Sulawesi.

In a new paper Amarasinghe et al. (2015) examine the systematics of the genus and redefine based only uon specimens from Java Cylindrophis ruffus, they C. burmanus using the type series collected from Myanmar, and designate a lectotype. They identified four groups based on the number of scale rows around the midbody (17, 19, 21, and 23). Among the Cylindrophis examined they discovered two new species: C. jodiae sp. nov. from Vietnam and C. mirzae sp. nov. from Singapore. This paper is a good start on revising the genus but it leaves many undescribed species in places like Sumatra. Borneo, and most of the Indochinese peninsula.

Amarasinghe AAT, Campbell PD, Hallermann J, Sidik I, Supriatna J, Ineich I. 2015. Two new species of the genus Cylindrophis Wagler, 1828 (Squamata: Cylindrophiidae) from Southeast Asia. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 9(1): 34–51 (e98).

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