Monday, February 22, 2021

[Herpetology • 2021] Madatyphlops eudelini • Morphological, Osteological, and Genetic Data support A New Species of Madatyphlops (Serpentes: Typhlopidae) endemic to Mayotte Island, Comoros Archipelago

Madatyphlops eudelini 
Hawlitschek, Scherz, Webster, Ineich & Glaw, 2021

Blind snakes (Typhlopidae) are an enigmatic group of small burrowing snakes whose anatomy, phylogenetics, and biodiversity remain poorly known. Madatyphlops comorensis (Boulenger, 1889), endemic to the Comoros Archipelago in the Western Indian Ocean, is one of many species whose phylogenetic placement and generic assignment is unclear. We used DNA barcoding, external morphological examination, and osteological data from 3D reconstruction with micro‐CT to study specimens of Madatyphlops from the Comoros Archipelago. Our results support the placement of M. comorensis in Madatyphlops and the recognition of the specimens from Mayotte Island as a closely related but distinct species, which we describe as Madatyphlops eudelini sp. nov. In this context, we present the first detailed osteological descriptions of any species of Madatyphlops, which we hope will serve as groundwork for further osteological studies in this genus and contribute to our limited but growing understanding of the osteology of typhlopid snakes.

Keywords: 3D reconstruction, blind snake, Comoros Archipelago, cranial anatomy, Mayotte, micro‐CT, skull

The holotype (ZSM 403/2014) of Madatyphlops eudelini sp. nov.
 (a) Specimen found freshly dead at the type locality. (b) Close‐up lateral view of the head and anterior body.
(c) The specimen preserved in ethanol, lateral view of the whole specimen. (d) Head and neck, dorsal view.
(e) Head and neck, lateral view. (f) Head and throat, ventral view.
 Photos (a) and (b) by Rémy Eudeline, (c) by Oliver Hawlitschek, (d) to (f) by Michael Franzen

Genus Madatyphlops Hedges et al., 2014

Madatyphlops eudelini sp. nov.

Etymology: The species epithet is a patronym in honor of Rémy Eudeline, with the last letter removed for better pronunciation. Rémy is a high school teacher of sciences, parataxonomist, and then‐resident of Mayotte, who found the holotype specimen during his first visit to the type locality, after the first author of this publication failed to observe this species in more than 10 surveys of the same locality.  

Distribution map of Madatyphlops in the Comoros Archipelago.
 The inlays show the position of the archipelago in the context of the Western Indian Ocean (bottom left)
and a photo of the type locality of Madatyphlops eudelini sp. nov., the humid forest of Mt. Benara on Mayotte Island (top right)

Oliver Hawlitschek, Mark D. Scherz, Kathleen C. Webster, Ivan Ineich and Frank Glaw. 2021. Morphological, Osteological, and Genetic Data support A New Species of Madatyphlops (Serpentes: Typhlopidae) endemic to Mayotte Island, Comoros Archipelago. The Anatomical Record. DOI: 10.1002/ar.24589