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Pseudechis rossignolii (HOSER, 2000)

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Higher TaxaElapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymPailsus 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 
DistributionS Papua New Guinea, Indoneisa (Irian Jaya)

Type locality: New Guinea (”general region of Merauke”, Lat 8° 30' Long 140° 20')  
Reproductionoviparous (ovoviviparous) 
TypesHolotype: MZB 364 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: 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. 

Distribution: see map of localities in MADDOCK et al. 2016. 
EtymologyNamed 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. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Hoser, Raymond 2000. A New Species of Snake (Serpentes: Elapidae) from Irian Jaya. Litteratura Serpentium 20 (6):178-186 - get paper here
  • Kuch, Ulrich; J. Scott Keogh; John Weigel; Laurie A. Smith & Dietrich Mebs 2005. Phylogeography of Australia s king brown snake (Pseudechis australis) reveals Pliocene divergence and Pleistocene dispersal of a top predator. Naturwissenschaften 92:121–127 - get paper here
  • Maddock, Simon T.;Aaron Childerstone, Bryan Grieg Fry, David J. Williams , Axel Barlow, Wolfgang Wüster 2016. Multi-locus phylogeny and species delimitation of Australo-Papuan blacksnakes (Pseudechis Wagler, 1830: Elapidae: Serpentes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 107: 48-55 [2017, but published online 2016] - 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.
  • Williams, D. & W. Wüster 2005. Snakes of Papua New Guinea. In /Venomous bites and stings in Papua New Guinea: A guide to treatment for health workers and doctors./ (D. Williams, S. Jensen, B. Nimorakiotakis & K.D. Winkel, Eds.), pp. 33-64. AVRU, University of Melbourne.
  • Wüster, Wolfgang; Alex J. Dumbrell; Chris Hay; Catharine E. Pook; David J. Williams and Bryan Grieg Fry 2004. Snakes across the Strait: trans-Torresian phylogeographic relationships in three genera of Australasian snakes (Serpentes: Elapidae: Acanthophis, Oxyuranus, and Pseudechis). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 33 (3): 1-14 - get paper here
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