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Apodora papuana (PETERS & DORIA, 1878)

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Higher TaxaPythonidae, Henophidia, Pythonoidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Papuan (olive) python
G: Papua-Olivpython, Papuapython 
SynonymLiasis papuanus PETERS & DORIA 1878: 400
Liasis papuanus — BOULENGER 1893: 80
Liasis Tornieri WERNER 1897: 261
Liasis tornieri — DE ROOIJ 1917: 18
Liasis papuanus — DE ROOIJ 1917: 19
Liasis maximus WERNER 1936
Liasis olivaceus papuanus — STIMSON 1969: 26
Apodora papuana — KLUGE 1993
Morelia papuana — WELCH 1994
Apodora papuana — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 164
Apodora papuana — WARLINGS et al. 2008
Apodora papuana — SCHLEIP & O’SHEA 2010
Liasis papuana — REYNOLDS et al. 2014
Apodora papuana — WALLACH et al. 2014: 49
Apodora papuana — BARKER et al. 2015
Apodora papuana — ESQUERRÉ et al. 2020 
DistributionPapua New Guinea,
Indonesia (Misool and Irian Jaya)

Type locality: Soron (Costa N. O. della N. Guinea)” [Sorong, Irian Jaya, Indonesia] = “Romoi, near Soron” fide KLUGE (1993).  
TypesHolotype: MSNG 29988 (fide CAPOCACCIA 1961, Kluge 1993) 
DiagnosisDescription. Kluge 1993 did not diagnose Apodora, but Barker et al. 2015 provide the following characterization: “Apodora papuana in life is starkly different from any of the other species in Liasis. Though there are general overall similarities between Apodora papuana and Liasis olivaceus (i.e. both are large brown elongated snakes with similarly high counts of ventral scales), perceivable similarities end there. We have extensive experience with living specimens of Apodora, and also with all taxa of Liasis (fuscus, dunni, mackloti, savuensis, olivaceus) excepting L. olivaceus barroni. We have observed that A. papuana has the remarkable ability to change the colour of its head, eyes, and body, each independent of the other; this is not observed (or reported) in Liasis. Furthermore, Apodora has a low neural spine on the vertebrae of the neck and body relative to Liasis, a primitive condition (Scanlon & Mackness, 2002). Apodora has darkly pigmented skin, including the lining of the mouth and cloaca, and has an extremely long and deeply forked tongue. According to Parker (1982), Apodora appears to easily slough skin; this has not been observed by us and has not been reported in Liasis. Apodora has thermoreceptive pits in the rostral while Liasis species generally do not (individual specimens of L. mackloti may show shallow rostral pits, (Barker and Barker, pers. obs.; McDowell, 1975). When corrected for size (SVL), the eggs of Apodora are relatively larger than those of any of the four Liasis species with whose eggs which we have experience (Barker and Barker, unpubl. data).” 
CommentSynonymy mostly after Stimson 1969 and Kluge 1993. Apodora was synonymized with Liasis by Reynolds et al. 2014.

Type species: Liasis papuanus PETERS & DORIA 1878: 400 is the type species of the genus Apodora KLUGE 1993. Kluge did not diagnose the genus (he only provided diagnoses for genus groups as the relationship to other genera was unknown and only got resolved by Esquerré et al. 2020).

Apodora “looks and feels different from Liasis. Liasis are "tight bodied" muscular with relatively long heads. Apodora are different in appearance, they have looser skin (name!), which can tear and scare easily, almost autotomising, and very distinct black interstitial skin that almost etches around each scute. They have chunky heads, not long heads like the three Liasis.” (Mark O’Shea, pers. comm., 2 Feb 2015). 
EtymologyThe species was named after its distribution in Papua New Guinea.

The genus name, Apodora, is from Greek feminine meaning "a peeling of the skin” (Brown, 1956:716), which emphasises the peculiar nature of this species' relatively thin and fragile integument (Kluge 1993). 
  • Bär,R.B. 2000. Deutsche Erstnachzucht des Papua-Olivpythons (Apodora papuana). Elaphe 8 (3): 11-15
  • Barker, D. G., Barker, T. M., Davis, M. A. and Schuett, G. W. 2015. A review of the systematics and taxonomy of Pythonidae: an ancient serpent lineage. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 175 (1): 1-19; doi: 10.1111/zoj.12267 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) I. London (Taylor & Francis), 448 pp. - get paper here
  • de Rooij, N. DE 1917. The Reptiles of the Indo-Australian Archipelago. Il. Ophidia. Leiden (E. J. Brill), xiv + 334 S. - get paper here
  • Esquerré, Damien; Stephen Donnellan, Ian G Brennan, Alan R Lemmon, Emily Moriarty Lemmon, Hussam Zaher, Felipe G Grazziotin, J Scott Keogh 2020. Phylogenomics, Biogeography, and Morphometrics Reveal Rapid Phenotypic Evolution in Pythons After Crossing Wallace’s Line. Systematic Biology, 69 (6): 1039–1051 - get paper here
  • Gemel, R.; G. Gassner & S. Schweiger 2019. Katalog der Typen der Herpetologischen Sammlung des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien – 2018. Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien, B 121: 33–248
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  • KNAUF, S. 2000. Bemerkungen zur Haltung des Papua-Olivpythons Apodora papuana (PETERS & DORIA, 1878). Sauria 22 (4): 11-15 - get paper here
  • Kunz, K. 2017. Die Pythons Neuguineas. Von altbekannt bis geheimnisumwittert. Reptilia (Münster) 22 (127): 16-21 - get paper here
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • O'Shea,M. 1996. A Guide to the Snakes of Papua New Guinea. Independent Publishing, Port Moresby, xii + 239 pp. - get paper here
  • Peters, Wilhem Carl Hartwig and G. Doria. 1878. Catalogo dei retilli e dei batraci raccolti da O. Beccari, L. M. D'Alberts e A. A. Bruijn. nella sotto-regione Austro-Malese. Annali del Museo Civico de Storia Naturale di Genova. ser. 1, 13: 323-450 - get paper here
  • Reynolds, R. Graham; Matthew L. Niemiller, Liam J. Revell 2014. Toward a Tree-of-Life for the boas and pythons: Multilocus species-level phylogeny with unprecedented taxon sampling. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 71: 201–213 [published online in 2013] - get paper here
  • Riel, C.A.P. van, P. Zwart & E. de Winter 1984. Pentastomida and other parasites, and their treatment in Liasis papuanus. Litteratura Serpentium 4 (1): 21-24 - get paper here
  • Schleip, Wulf D & O’Shea, M. 2010. Annotated checklist of the recent and extinct pythons (Serpentes, Pythonidae), with notes on nomenclature, taxonomy, and distribution. ZooKeys 66 (2010) : 29-79 - get paper here
  • Seung Hoon, Cha 2012. Snake, the world most beautifull curve [in Korean]. Hownext, 304 pp. [ISBN 978-89-965656-7-3] - get paper here
  • Stimson, Andrew F. 1969. Liste der rezenten Amphibien und Reptilien: Boidae (Boinae + Bolyeriinae + Loxoceminae + Pythoninae). Das Tierreich 89 xi + 1-49
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Werner, F. 1897. Über einige noch unbeschriebene Reptilien und Batrachier. Zool. Anz. 20: 261—267 - get paper here
  • Werner, Franz 1930. Boidenstudien im Wiener Naturhistorischen Museum. Zool. Anz. 87 (7/8): 198-207 - get paper here
  • Werner, Franz 1936. Nova species Boidarum. Annales Musei Nationalis Hungarici. Pars Zoologica 30: (1)
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