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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Superclassis: Sarcopterygii
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Superfamilia: Booidea

Familia: Uropeltidae
Genus: Melanophidium
Species: M. bilineatum - M. khairei – M. punctatum - M. wynaudense
Name

Melanophidium Günther, 1864
References

Gower, D.J., Giri, V., Captain, A. & Wilkinson, M. 2016. A reassessment of Melanophidium Günther, 1864 (Squamata: Serpentes: Uropeltidae) from the Western Ghats of peninsular India, with the description of a new species. Zootaxa 4085(4): 481–503. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4085.4.2 Paywall Reference page.

Vernacular names
English: Black Earth Snakes

Melanophidium is a genus of nonvenomous shield tail snakes endemic to the Western Ghats of India. These species are identifiable by having a mental groove in their chin shields. Currently, four species are recognized, including one newly described species.[2]

Natural history

Their very smooth and glossy skin is said to be highly iridescent and is functional in warding off debris during burrowing. They are typically fossorial and nocturnal, becoming active during rainy nights.[3]
Geographic range

Found in India in the Western Ghats: from Tirunelveli Hills in Tamil Nadu, at the southern tip of the country, northwards up to the Amboli Hills in Maharashtra.[4]
Species
Species[2] Taxon author[2] Common name Geographic range[1][4]
Melanophidium bilineatum Beddome, 1870 Two-lined black shieldtail Wayanad hills in the Western Ghats: in Peria and Tirhoot Peaks, west of Manantoddy
Melanophidium punctatum Beddome, 1871 Spotted black shieldtail Southern Western Ghats: in Travancore (900–1500 m elevation) and the Anamalai Hills, south of the Palghat Gap.
Melanophidium wynaudenseT (Beddome, 1863) Wayanad black shieldtail Central Western Ghats: from Wayanad to Manantoddy District, Coorg up to Agumbe Ghats, at 900–1500 m elevation
Melanophidium khairei Gower, Giri, Captain & Wilkinson, 2016 Khaire's black shieldtail Western India in the Northern Western Ghats, of Goa and Maharashtra states.

T) Type species[1]
References

McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
"Melanophidium". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 1 September 2007.
Rajendran M. V. ( 1985) Studies in Uropeltid Snakes. Madurai university Press, Madurai.
GOWER, DAVID J.; VARAD GIRI, ASHOK CAPTAIN, MARK WILKINSON 2016. A reassessment of Melanophidium Günther, 1864 (Squamata: Serpentes: Uropeltidae) from the Western Ghats of peninsular India, with the description of a new species. Zootaxa 4085 (4): 481–503.

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