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30 December 2016 A catalogue and systematic overview of the shield-tailed snakes (Serpentes: Uropeltidae)
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Abstract

We present a catalogue and systematic overview of Uropeltidae Müller, 1832 based on both new and previously published molecular and morphological data, and a new molecular phylogenetic analysis. We support the monophyly and distinctiveness of Brachyophidium Wall, 1921, Melanophidium Günther, 1864, Platyplectrurus Günther, 1868, Pseudoplectrurus Boulenger, 1890, and Teretrurus Beddome, 1886. We move Uropeltis melanogaster (Gray, 1858), U. phillipsi (Nicholls, 1929), and Pseudotyphlops Schlegel, 1839 to Rhinophis Hemprich, 1820, and re-name Pseudotyphlops philippinus (Müller, 1832) as R. saffragamus (Kelaart, 1853), and U. smithi Gans, 1966 as U. grandis (Beddome, 1867). Thanks to these changes, the taxonomy of all these genera is based on monophyletic entities. Diagnoses based on meristic and mensural characters for external and internal anatomy are provided for the family and all genera, and accounts are given for all currently recognized species, summarizing known morphological variation. We note several taxa that continue to be of uncertain phylogenetic affinity, and outline necessary future studies of variation in systematically valuable characters such as rostral and tail morphology. Cryptic variation is likely present in many species, and additional collection of specimens and DNA-sequence data will likely be needed to provide conclusive resolution for remaining taxonomic issues. Numerous questions remain for the systematics of Uropeltidae, and we hope that this study will provide a platform for ongoing research into the group, including the description of cryptic species, clarifying the phylogenetic placement of some remaining taxa, and quantifying the range of intra- and inter-specific variation in crucial morphological characters.

© Publications scientifiques du Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris.
Robert Alexander Pyron, Sumaithangi Rajagopalan Ganesh, Amit Sayyed, Vivek Sharma, Van Wallach, and Ruchira Somaweera "A catalogue and systematic overview of the shield-tailed snakes (Serpentes: Uropeltidae)," Zoosystema 38(4), 453-506, (30 December 2016). https://doi.org/10.5252/z2016n4a2
Received: 7 December 2015; Accepted: 1 October 2016; Published: 30 December 2016
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