Cathethorinus melanocephalus Duméril & Bibron, 1844

Black-headed blindsnake, Enigmatic blind-snake (proposed)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Ramphotyphlops melanocephalus Duméril & Bibron, 1844; Typhlops (Typhlina) melanocephalus Duméril & Bibron, 1844; Typhlops (Cathetorhinus) melanocephalus Duméril & Bibron, 1844


Conservation Status


Last record: 1844 or before





An enigmatic species of blind-snake, known only from a single specimen collected by Peron & Leseur, and described by (Duméril & Bibron, 1844). The exact locality where this species was collected is unknown. Cheke (2010) thought that Mauritius was the most likely place, and Wallach and Pauwels (2008) stated that “the provenance of this species remains unknown: it is certainly Old World, and may be from (in order of probability) Timor, Australia, Mauritius or Tenerife” (cited by Uetz et al., The Reptile Database). Its systematic position remains unresolved (e.g. considered [i]incertae sedis[/i] by McDiarmid et al. 1999), preventing definite allocation to a genus. If we knew its generic placement we could conceivably narrow down its possible biogeographical range by looking to its congeners, and hence raising the possibility of finding it alive. As it is, we do not know where it comes from and hence what possible threats it faces, if any, if not already extinct.


Biology & Ecology




Holotype: MNHN 0138 (adult, sex not stated)






Original scientific description:

Duméril, A. M. C. and Bibron, G. (1844). Erpetologie Générale ou Histoire Naturelle Complete des Reptiles. Vol.6. Libr. Encyclopédique Roret, Paris, 609 pp.


Other references:

Cheke, Anthony S. (2010). Is the enigmatic blind-snake Cathetorhinus melanocephalus (Serpentes: Typhlopidae) an extinct endemic species from Mauritius? Hamadryad 35: 101-104.

McDiarmid, R. W., Campbell, J. A. and Touré,T. A. (1999). Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. Herpetologists’ League. 511 pp.

Regalado, Pedro Galán. (2015). Los Anfibios y Reptiles Extinguidos: Herpetofauna Desaparecida Desde el Año 1500. Monografías de la Universidade da Coruña 155: 1-509.

Roux-Estève, R. (1974). Révision systématique des Typhlopidae d'Afrique. Reptilia. Serpentes. Mém. nation. Hist. nat., Paris, (sér.A.) 87: 1-313.

Wallach, V. and Pauwels, O. S. G. (2008). The systematic status of Cathetorhinus melanocephalus Duméril & Bibron, 1844 (Serpentes: Typhlopidae). Hamadryad 32: 116-124.


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