Pseudechis rossignolii (HOSER, 2000)
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|Higher Taxa||Elapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)|
|Synonym||Pailsus rossignolii HOSER 2000|
Pseudechis rossignolii — WÜSTER et al. 2004
Pseudechis rossignolii — WILLIAMS & WÜSTER 2005
Pseudechis [clade I] — KUCH et al. 2005
Pseudechis rossignolii — WALLACH et al. 2014: 597
|Distribution||S Papua New Guinea, Indoneisa (Irian Jaya)|
Type locality: New Guinea (”general region of Merauke”, Lat 8° 30' Long 140° 20')
|Types||Holotype: MZB 364|
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis: For many years this species has apparently been misidentified and confused with the King Brown Snake (Cannia australis) and possibly snakes of the genus Pseudonaja. It is not known if the species is sympatric with either. All species are relatively large, nondescript in appearance and smooth-scaled species of brownish dorsal coloration. There are few if any prominent markings.|
The species seems to be most like Pailsus pailsei, from which it can be separated definitively by the following:-
1. Distribution – This species is known only from the island of New Guinea, Pailsus pailsei is known only from Australia and possibly Groote Eylandt, immediately adjacent to the Northern Territory Coast (refer to Hoser 1999b, for details on the Groote Eylandt and West Australian reports).
2. The two species can be separated by DNA analysis.
3. The subcaudal count for P. rossignolii observed is substantially less than for P. pailsei, (under 60 in P. rossignolii (see later this paper) versus 69 in the only two definitively known P. pailsei) but until a greater number of specimens are checked, the differences observed so far may not remain consistent. We have an unconfirmed report of a third Australian Pailsus from near Wyndham, WA having 75 single subcaudals (Richard West, pers. comm), further indicating that Australian and New Guinea specimens can be separated by their subcaudal counts, (49-58 for New Guinea animals known versus 69-75 for Australian animals known).
It is also likely that P. rossignolii sp. nov. and P. pailsei can be separated by colouration. Specimens of P. rossignolii seen appear to be slightly darker in colouration. However the samples of both species inspected to date are small and later examinations of further specimens may find these traits as being unreliable indicators for separating the species.
Pailsus rossignolii (and P. pailsei) are separated from Cannia australis by the following characters:
1. A more slender and gracile build, particularly around the head and neck, which is nowhere near as broad.
2. A smaller adult size,
3. A smaller less broad and/or distinct head.
4. The body mass differences between the genera are substantial. To date Cannia is known to regularly exceed 2.5 metres, more than double the length known for Pailsus. Noting the more thick-set nature of Cannia, this would translate as a mass difference between the genera of a vast magnitude.
5. Pailsus rossignolii (and P. pailsei) can be reliably be separated from Cannia australis from northern Australia and north-western Queensland (where both genera occur) by the lack of paired subcaudals (under 10) when compared with local Cannia australis (over 10). If C. australis do in fact occur on the island of New Guinea, then one would expect specimens to have similar subcaudal patterns in terms of paired versus single. (Refer to Hoser (1998) for a comparison between Australian Pailsus and Australian Cannia subcaudal scale counts).
Pailsus rossignolii can be separated from Pseudonaja by the following:
1. A typical lack of paired subcaudals versus all or mainly divided in Pseudonaja, 2. The lack of orange or brown ventral markings,
3. It's whitish coloured rostral.
Suggestions made that Pailsus rossignolii or any other Pailsus species may be a "hybrid" between Cannia australis and a Pseudonaja must be dismissed on the following grounds:
1. There is no evidence of any such hybridisation occurring.
2. All hybrid Australasian snakes seen by this author, including Acanthophis hawkei X A. lancasteri, Morelia spilota X Morelia amethistina and Morelia spilota X Liasis fuscus have always had scalation intermediate between the parents. This is not the case for Pailsus rossignolii. From the data presented in this paper and Hoser (1998), it is evident that it is in fact Cannia australis (definitely not a hybrid snake) that appears to have what could be termed scalation intermediate between Pseudonaja and Pailsus, at least with reference to the number of paired or single subcaudals.
3. Pailsus and Cannia are sympatric in the Mount Isa Area of Queensland demonstrating that they are specifically distinct and do not cross-breed in the wild state.
Note: all of the above text was given under the heading “diagnosis” by Hoser.
Distribution: see map of localities in MADDOCK et al. 2016.
|Etymology||Named after Fred Rossignoli of Ringwood, Victoria, as tribute to his work involving Australian reptiles, in particular through his educational lectures at schools and other educational institutions.|
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