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Oxyuranus temporalis DOUGHTY, MARYAN, DONNELLAN & HUTCHINSON, 2007

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Higher TaxaElapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Western Desert Taipan, Central Ranges Taipan 
SynonymOxyuranus temporalis DOUGHTY, MARYAN, DONNELLAN & HUTCHINSON 2007
Oxyuranus temporalis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 521
Oxyuranus temporalis — MIRTSCHIN et al. 2017 
DistributionWestern Australia (Western Australia, Northern Territory)

Type locality: east of the Walter James Range, Western Australia (24°40’06”S, 128°45’52”E).  
ReproductionIt is likely that the female was approaching maturity as there are four undeveloped follicles in the left ovary (largest = 2.87 mm) and three in the right ovary (largest = 3.18 mm). Size at maturation in the other species of Oxyuranus is close to the size of the holotype (Shine & Covacevich 1983). Numerous fat bodies are present. 
TypesHolotype: WAM R166250 (SAMA field number BS-009075). A subadult female collected on 22 September 2006 by M. Hutchinson. Liver stored frozen at SAMA. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A species of Oxyuranus distinguished from O. microlepidotus and O. scutellatus by one (rather than two) primary temporal scales and six (rather than seven) lower labials. Head distinct from neck. Tail elongate, tapering gradually from the cloaca. Scales smooth with a subtle convexity; no hint of keeling. Anal scale entire. Two pairs of pregenial and postgenial scales; anterior edge of pregenial in narrow contact with second lower labial; anterior edge of postgenial in narrow contact with third lower labial. Intergulars six and narrowing anteriorly towards chin; four gular scales between anterior most intergular and postgenial scales. Head rectangular (sides parallel) tapering to a broadly rounded snout. Moderately sharp canthus rostralis and angular brow ridge that protrudes slightly beyond eye. Eyes large. Rostral scale large and arched dorsally; lingua fossa large and circular. Nasals entire, perforated by large nostril that opens posteriorly. Margin of nostril just reaches ventral border of nasal. Internasals squarish and approximately half the length of the prefrontals. Prefrontals large and as wide as long. Sides of frontal slightly concave, width of anterior edge slightly smaller than length, posterior edges converging at 45° angles. Supraoculars 2.5 times longer than wide, gradually narrowing anteriorly (1.5 times longer than prefrontals). Preocular twice as high as wide, separated from frontal but ventral anterior edge extends to contact nasal. Two postoculars, lower about twice as high as upper. A single primary temporal scale with two secondary temporals. Parietals large, longer than wide; short medial transverse suture located near posterior edge of scales. Upper labials 6; lower labials 6 (7 if small scale below sixth upper labial is counted; see Fig. 3). Labials have a slightly serrated appearance along jaw. Last upper labial large and rectangular except for encroachment of lower secondary temporal into dorsal posterior corner. Right front fang 3.0 mm long (left fang broken inside sheath). A single tooth follows the fang on the maxilla. Palatine with a toothless portion anteriorly, followed by approximately 8 teeth (estimated from partial dissection). 10 dentary teeth. 
CommentColouration in preservative. Body is light pale brown with diffuse darker olive grey variegations. Head creamy brown and distinctly paler than body. No dark collar separating the pale head from the browner body colour. The skin from many scales has sloughed off revealing a pale whitish underlying ground colour with darker olive grey scales maintaining contrast to ground colour. Ventral surface pale yellowish white; no yellow tinge on subcaudals. Slight indication of spotting on ventral surface towards head. Eye black with black iris, pupil round. Lining of mouth pale.

Diet. Dissection of the gut revealed several clumps of hair from recent small mammal prey items.

Habitat and behaviour. The specimen was captured on a hot sunny day crossing a dirt road on a deep sandy flat with very open low mallee (Eucalyptus spp.) and Grevillea over storey and diverse shrubby understorey dominated by Triodia. The snake was sighted from a motor vehicle, at approximately 1600 h. When the vehicle passed the snake and stopped, the snake remained immobile rather than fleeing, and when approached it adopted an “S” threat pose typical of Pseudonaja and Oxyuranus (M. Hutchinson, pers. obs.).

EtymologyFrom the Latin temporalis in reference to the different arrangement of temporal scales compared to the other two species of Oxyuranus. 
  • Black, S., Beeby, R. and Hutchinson, M. N. 2020. Confirmation of the western desert taipan, Oxyuranus temporalis, in the Northern Territory, Australia. Herpetological Review 51: 8-10. - get paper here
  • Brennan, Karl E. C., Morley, Terry, Hutchinson, Mark, and Donnellan, Steve 2012. Redescription of the western desert taipan, Oxyuranus temporalis (Serpentes : Elapidae), with notes on its distribution, diet and genetic variation. Australian Journal of Zoology 59: 227–235 - get paper here
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • DOUGHTY, PAUL; BRAD MARYAN, STEPHEN C. DONNELLAN & MARK N. HUTCHINSON 2007. A new species of taipan (Elapidae: Oxyuranus) from central Australia. Zootaxa 1422: 45-58 - get paper here
  • Mirtschin, P., Rasmussen, A.R. & Weinstein, S.A. 2017. Australia’s Dangerous snakes. CSIRO Publishing, 424 pp. - get paper here
  • Shea, G. M. 2007. A possible second record of the Central Ranges taipan Oxyuranus temporalis (Elapidae). Herpetofauna 37: 95–97 - get paper here
  • Shine, R.; Covacevich, J. 1983. Ecology of highly venomous snakes: the Australian genus Oxyuranus (Elapidae). Journal of Herpetology 17 (1): 60-69 - 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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