Southeastern Balkan Peninsula, Anatolia and adjacent Greek Aegean islands, Cyprus, Transcaucasia and a few locatilities north of Great Caucasus (Chechnya and Dagestan in Russia), Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Northeastern Sinai, Iraq, Iran and Northeastern Algeria. 


Ophisops elegans  MÉNÉTRIÉS, 1832

Subspecies (7):

Ophisops elegans elegans  MÉNÉTRIÉS, 1832

Ophisops elegans basoglui  BARAN & BUDAK, 1978

Ophisops elegans blanfordi  SCHMIDT, 1939

Ophisops elegans centralanatoliae  BODENHEIMER, 1944

Ophisops elegans ehrenbergii  (WIEGMANN, 1835)

Ophisops elegans macrodactylus  BERTHOLD, 1842

Ophisops elegans schlueteri  BOETTGER, 1880

Population (1):

Ophisops elegans Aures Population  CHIRIO & BLANC, 1993


Ophisops elegans   MÉNÉTRIÉS, 1832

Amystes ehrenbergi   WIEGMANN, 1835

Gymnops meizolepis   STOLICZKA, 1872

Common names:

European Snake-eyed Lizard (English)
Europäisches Schlangenauge (German)
Стройная змееголовка (Russian)


elegans: Syntype: USNM 21396

basoglui: Holotype: ZDEU (also given as SZE) 167/1975.1, Turkey, Alanya

blanfordi: Holotype: FMNH 19721, paratypes: MSNG

centralanatoliae: Syntypes: ZMUI (`Zoological Institutes at Istanbul University and Ankara (Y.Z.E.)`, BMNH (123+ specimens)

ehrenbergii: Holotype: ZMB

macrodactylus: Holotype: ZFMK 21219, cited erroneously as ZDFMK by Böhme 2010

schlueteri: Lectotype: SMF 13841

Terra Typica:

elegans: Surroundings of Baku, Azerbaijan.

basoglui: Alanya, Turkey (south coast).

blanfordi: Halfaya ( = Al Halfayah) east of Amara ( = Al Amarah), Iraq.

centralanatoliae: Ankara, Turkey.

ehrenbergii: Syria.

macrodactylus: Istanbul, W Turkey.

schlueteri: Cyprus.

Taxonomic notes:

The subspecies of Ophisops elegans are currently among the most difficult chapters in the classification of Lacertidae, this is mainly because there is no comprehensive analysis of the complex. The few existing studies are limited to narrow areas, such as Iran by ANDERSON (1999) or Jordan by Y. WERNER (1971). Another problem are some very old subspecies, which were then still described as species, so it may be assumed that the authors were unaware of the `Type form`. These species were later (In some cases arbitrarily) assigned to subspecies on geographically and morphologically defined population groups. DAREVSKIJ & BEUTLER (1981, `Handbuch...`) gave a brief overview of the main differences between the, at that time, recognized subspecies.
Recently, a fairly comprehensive genetic study was released about the species, unfortunately lacking material from the vicinity of the terra typica (Baku, Azerbayjan) and material of the ssp. blanfordi (Southern Mesopotamia), so that the attempt of allocation clades to particular sub-species is hardly possible here. However, the taxonomic significance of analysis inherited only through the female line by mitochondrial DNA is low, because such results for many other species do not correspond to morphologically identifiable subspecies.


Relevant taxonomic literature:

  • Ménétries, E. (1832) -  Description Genus Ophisops; typ. sp. elegans. -  In: Catalogue Raisonné des Objets de Zoologie, recueillis dans un voyage au Caucase et jusqu’aux frontières actuelles de la Perse. St.-Pétersbourg.   

  • Darevsky, I.S. & Beutler, A (1981) -  Ophisops elegans Ménétries 1832 - Schlangenauge. -  In: Böhme, W. (Hrsg.): Handbuch der Reptilien und Amphibien Europas. Band 11 Echsen I. 461-477.  

  • Kyriazi, P. & Poulakakis, N. & Parmakelis, A. & Crochet, P.A. & Moravec, J. & Rastegar-Pouyani, N. & Tsigenopoulos, C.S. & Magoulas, A. & Mylonas, M. & Lymberakis, P. (2008) -  Mitochondrial DNA reveals the genealogical history of the snake-eyed lizards (Ophisops elegans and O. occidentalis)(Sauria: Lacertidae) -  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 49 (3): 795-805.    


Ophisops elegans: 224  pictures (see subspecies level)


Ophisops elegans macrodactylus  © 2003 Leonhard Klügl