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Elapognathus minor (GÜNTHER, 1863)

IUCN Red List - Elapognathus minor - Least Concern, LR

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Higher TaxaElapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Short-nosed Snake, Little Brown Snake
G: Kleine Braunotter 
SynonymHoplocephalus minor GÜNTHER 1863 : 362
Elapognathus minor — BOULENGER 1896
Notechis minor — STORR 1982
Elapognathus minor — COGGER 1983: 224
Elapognathus minor — WELCH 1994: 59
Elapognathus minor — COGGER 2000: 649
Elaphognathus minor — BUSH & MARYAN 2006 (in error)
Elapognathus minor — WILSON & SWAN 2010
Elapognathus minor — WALLACH et al. 2014: 264 
DistributionAustralia (SW Western Australia)

Type locality: Swan River, S Australia; “Spitjwestern Australia” fide GOLAY et al. 1993.  
TypesLectotype: BMNH 1946.1.20.71 M (Swan River), designated by Wells & Wellington (1985). Former syntypes: BMNH 1946.1.18.64 F (Swan River); BMNH 1946.1.19.14-15 ("S. Australia”); BMNH 1964.962 (the skull from MCZ 76635), ZMB 4928 (not found), MCZ 76635 ("S. Australia", skull removed), from "S. Australia" and Swan River, W. A. (both as "S. W. Australia”). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Small terrestrial hydrophiine elapid snakes with anal and all subcaudals undivided; dorsal scales smooth and matt; head slightly distinct from neck; eye large; pupil round; 0 to 4 noncanaliculate maxillary teeth behind diastema (usually none in minor, but one specimen with 3 posterior alveoli); temporal scales usually 2+2+3 (up to 3+3+4 in coronatus); preocular contacts undivided nasal and second supralabial; usually 6 supralabials (in coronatus, sometimes 7 when temporolabial reaches lip); parietal separated from lower postocular; 7 infralabials. Venom-gland musculature ‘Oxyuranus type' (coronatus) or Glyphodon type (m. adductor externus superficialis [probably should be superfacialis] secondarily simplified and reduced in minor). Body form moderate to somewhat stout, round (or facultatively depressed) in crosssection; ventral scales not extending to lateral surface of the body and with uniformly curved free edge. Dorsal scale rows 19±23 at first ventral, 15 on neck and at midbody, a single bilateral posterior reduction to 13. Ventrals fewer than 160 (minor 116±129, coronatus 130± 153). Iris dark with pale ring around pupil; body reddish or greenish grey or brown; top of head darker and with pale-edged dark collar (in minor, only on sides of neck); upper lip pale; dorsal bands or blotches absent; venter yellow or orange with dark speckles or transverse bars; oral lining pale, tongue dark. SVL less than 600 mm, adult males and females approximately equal in size; viviparous; diet includes more frogs than skinks. Tail moderately prehensile, used by both species to climb at least in low vegetation.
Most similar to species of Drysdalia (coronoides, mastersii, rhodogaster), but distinguished by the following apomorphic characters: dorsal laminae of nasal bones more extensive, clasping premaxilla and contacting frontal; anteromedial spine of prefrontal absent; lacrimal foramen may be transversely elongated rather than round; postorbital broad and `strap-like' distally; adductor crests on parietal not meeting to form a sagittal crest posteriorly; neural spine not overhanging anteriorly; diet mainly frogs; tail prehensile and climbs in low vegetation. Drysdalia spp. further differ from Elapognathus in the following apomorphies: lower average number of dorsal scale rows at first ventral (range 17±21, vs. 19±23), and posterior reduction further behind midbody (15 to 13 rows at 76±88% ventral scale, vs. 63-88% in Elapognathus); posterior process of vomer subequal in length to capsule of Jacobsen's organ; frontal bones (and overlying scale) long, narrow between the orbits and expanded anteriorly; postorbital crest of parietal reduced; trigeminal foramen (V2) narrowly separated from parietal; retroarticular process in lateral view in line with compound; adductor fossa open laterally; surangular foramen one-third from anterior end of compound bone; one less pair of macrochromosomes (by fusion); Z sex chromosome modified and differing in relative length (`Group 5' vs. `Group 1' karyomorph, Mengden, 1985) (from Keogh et al. 2000: 325). 
CommentHabitat: terrestrial


Type species: Hoplocephalus minor GÜNTHER 1863 : 362 is the type species of the genus Elapognathus BOULENGER 1896.

Diagnosis (genus): Cogger 1986 ? (fide Hutchinson 1990, who doesn’t cite Cogger 1986). 
EtymologyPresumably named after the Latin minor (lesser), in reference to the small size. (G. Shea, pers. comm., 9 Feb 2024) 
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp. - get paper here
  • Bush, B. & Maryan, B. 2006. Snakes and Snake-like Reptiles of Southern Western Australia. Snakes Harmful & Harmless, Stoneville, Perth, Western Australia, 40 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • Glauert, L. 1960. A Handbook of Snakes of Western Australia, 2nd edn. Western Australian Naturalists' Club, Perth, 62 pp.
  • Golay,P, H.M. SMITH, D.G. BROADLEY, J. R. DIXON, C., MCCARTHY, J. C. RAGE, B. SCHÀTTI & M.TORIBA 1993. Endoglyphs and other major venomous snakes of the world. A checklist. [type catalogue] Aire-Genève, Azemiops S. A. Herpetological Data Center: i-xv + 1-478.
  • Günther. A. 1863. Third account of new species of snakes in the collection of the British Museum. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (3) 12: 348 - 365 - get paper here
  • Hutchinson M N 1990. The generic classification of the Australian terrestrial elapid snakes. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 29 (3): 397-405 - get paper here
  • 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.
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
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