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Toxicocalamus lamingtoni (KINGHORN, 1928)

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Higher TaxaElapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Mount Lamington forest snake 
SynonymApisthocalamus lamingtoni KINGHORN 1928: 290
Apistocalamus lamingtoni – ROUX 1934: 79
Toxicocalamus (Apistocalamus) loriae (part) – MCDOWELL 1969: 456
Toxicocalamus loriae X T. stanleyanus (part) – MCDOWELL 1969: 485
Toxicocalamus loriae Clade 3 – STRICKLAND et al. 2016: 671
Toxicocalamus lamingtoni — KRAUS et al. 2022: 1015 
DistributionPapua New Guinea (northern versant of the Owen Stanley Mts. in Oro Province and southern Morobe Province, elevations from 100– 940 m)

Type locality: Mount Lamington district, Northern Division, Papua.  
TypesHolotype: AMS R9351, collected by by C. Terence McNamara; paratypes: AMS R9352, R61072 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: “A modestly sized member of the T. loriae Group (male SVL up to 428 mm, female SVL up to 500 mm), with the following unique combination of characters: cloacal plate single; a single intergenial separating posterior genials, widest posteriorly. Preocular elongate, approximately twice as long as high, contacting nasal but not internasal; one postocular; two (92%) or three (8%) posterior temporals; 160–178 ventrals in nine males, 186– 195 in nine females, sexually dimorphic without overlap; 41–53 subcaudals in males, 26–34 in females, sexually dimorphic without overlap; SCR 19.3–23.0% in males, 12.2–14.9% in females, sexually dimorphic without overlap; females with very short tails relative to males (TLR sexually dimorphic without overlap, 16.7–20.8% in adult males, 9.0–11.6% in adult females); pale markings on prefrontals absent, even in juveniles; tail spine brown, same colour as remainder of tail; venter uniformly yellow; juveniles with brown anterior supralabials; and head pattern in juveniles typically consisting of a complete, broad, pale band across the nape, parietals, temporals, and last two supralabials, with remainder of head anterior to that lacking pale markings.” (Kraus et al. 2022)

Comparisons. “Toxicocalamus lamingtoni is unique within the T. loriae Group and distinguished from all other members of the genus except T. buergersi, T. cratermontanus, and T. stanleyanus in having a single cloacal plate; from these last three species T. lamingtoni is easily distinguished by having the preocular and prefrontal distinct (vs. fused). It is further distinguished from T. loriae in having only a single intergenial (vs. two in T. loriae), a dark-brown (vs. white in T. loriae) tail spine, brown anterior supralabials in juveniles (vs. yellow in T. loriae), and the broad yellow nuchal collar in juveniles (vs. narrow and incomplete in T. loriae); from T. nymani by its uniformly yellow venter in adults (vs. black or very dark brown in adult T. nymani), single postocular (usually two in T. nymani), dark-brown (vs. white in T. nymani) tail spine, brown anterior supralabials in juveniles (vs. yellow in T. nymani) , and the broad yellow nuchal collar in juveniles (vs. narrow and incomplete in T. nymani); from T. loennbergii by having two (vs. three in T. loennbergii) posterior temporals, lacking (vs. possessing) a dark vertebral stripe, and having a dark-brown (vs. white in T. loennbergii) tail spine; from T. nigrescens by its smaller size (SVL up to 500 mm in T. lamingtoni and 635 mm in T. nigrescens) and in having a uniformly yellow (vs. grey) venter; and from T. mattisoni in having the preocular contact the nasal (vs. separated by prefrontal contact with the second supralabial in T. mattisoni) and its uniformly yellow venter (vs. pale grey or yellow with grey band in T. mattisoni).” (Kraus et al. 2022)

Redescription of the holotype. “Adult male, 342 mm SVL + 78 mm TL = 420 mm TTL. Rostral broader than high, notched ventromedially; internasals angulate, semi-triangular, wider than long; prefrontals distinct from preoculars, approximately square but angled posteriorly, slightly longer than wide (Fig. 1D, D’), bordered below by preocular and nasal; preoculars elongate, narrower anteriorly, approximately 2.0–2.5 times as long as deep (Fig. 2G, G’, H, H’), bordered anteriorly by nasal, below by second and third supralabials; frontal shield-shaped, lateral margins angled obliquely, not fused with supraoculars, anterior margin extending slightly anterior to remainder of scale medially; parietals approximately twice as long as wide. Nasals divided by large nares, without grooves above or below naris, though this area dimpled or creased. Postoculars one, irregularly hexagonal in shape, approximately same size as eye; one elongate anterior temporal above fifth and sixth supralabials, separating latter from parietal; two posterior temporals on right (one above the other, with upper larger), three on left (anteriormost smallest followed posteriorly by a larger upper and smaller lower temporal), in either configuration lowest abutting posterodorsal margin of sixth supralabial. Supralabials six, third and fourth entering eye; infralabials six, first four in contact with anterior genial. Mental small, shallow, triangular, wider than deep, bordered behind by first supralabials; anterior genials larger and longer than posterior genials, in medial contact along entire length; posterior genials in narrow anterior contact, otherwise separated by single elongate intergenial, which is widest posteriorly; three gulars separate intergenial from first ventral in the midline; first sublabial separates posterior genial from fifth infralabial (Fig. 3D, D’). Eye relatively small; pupil round.
Dorsal scale rows 15-15-15, smooth, not notched posteriorly, without apical pits. Ventrals 173, each approximately four times wider than long; vent covered by single scale; subcaudals 46, paired. Tail tipped by a pointed conical spine.
In preservative (88 years after collection), dorsum uniformly brown-grey, paler laterally. Venter uniformly pale yellow; medial brown markings scattered on several anterior subcaudals, posterior subcaudals largely brown. Anterior five supralabials and rostral uniformly dark brown, last supralabial brown with large yellow blotch. Head otherwise uniformly dark brown. Chin and throat pale yellow suffused with brown on mental, anterior gulars, and first four supralabials. Tail spine brown, not distinct in colour from remainder of tail but slightly paler at tip. Iris black.” (Kraus et al. 2022)

Variation. Nasals divided by large nares, without grooves above or below naris, though these areas often dimpled or creased. Postoculars one, except two in AMNH R-101103, irregularly hexagonal in shape, smaller than or occupying approximately same area as eye; two (63%) or three (37%) posterior temporals, either one above the other, with upper larger, or with anteriormost smallest followed posteriorly by a larger upper and smaller lower temporal, in either configuration lowest abutting posterodorsal margin of sixth supralabial. Supralabials six, except two specimens with five on one side; third and fourth supralabials contacting eye, except third or second and third in specimens with five supralabials. Anterior genials usually larger and longer than posterior genials but may be subequal; posterior genials entirely separated by single elongate intergenial (n = 5) or in medial contact for first quarter to first three-quarters of length (n = 12); intergenial one (except AMNH R-101103, which has an additional tiny intercalary scale anteriorly), widest posteriorly.
Dorsal scale rows invariably 15-15-15. Ventrals 160– 178 (170 ± 5) in nine males, 186–195 (190 ± 3) in nine females; subcaudals 41–53 (46 ± 4) in nine males, 26–34 (29 ± 2) in nine females; SCR 19.3–23.0% (21.4 ± 1.2%) in males and 12.2–14.9% (13.2 ± 0.8%) in females. Tail tipped by a blunt to pointed conical spine. Maximum male SVL 428 mm, TLR = 16.7–20.8% (18.8 ± 1.4%); maximum female SVL 500 mm, TL R = 9.0–11.6% (10.3 ± 0.9%).” (Kraus et al. 2022)

Coloration: “In preservative, dorsum uniformly grey or brown-grey in recent specimens, fading to uniform medium brown in specimens retained longer in alcohol. Venter uniformly pale yellow; most larger specimens and one neonate have some brown markings on the posterior subcaudals or midventrally on more anterior subcaudals, but these are never densely arrayed. In the Garaina sample, all supralabials and rostral pale yellow ventrally; in samples from south of there supralabials and rostral often densely suffused with brown or grey; in populations from Mt. Lamington and Cape Nelson, anterior 4–5 supralabials and rostral uniform black or dark brown, posterior supralabials mostly yellow. Yellow markings typically absent on nasals and prefrontals, though vaguely developed on prefrontals in two specimens. Nuchal collar evident in specimens < 260 mm SVL but absent or very obscure in specimens > 330 mm SVL, better developed in southern samples; collar narrow in AMNH R-101100 (SVL = 160 mm) but very wide in AMS R9352 (SVL = 163 mm), AMS R61027 (SVL = 167 mm), and BPBM 36171 (SVL = 190 mm), extending from behind head anteriorly across most of parietals, anterior temporals, and supralabials 5 and 6 (Fig. 4G, H). AMS R61027 also has a yellow blotch centrally located on the anterior frontal and posterior prefrontals. Chin and throat uniformly pale yellow in Garaina samples, with brown suffusion on anterior of chin in all other specimens. Conical tail spine invariably brown, not distinct in colour from remainder of tail.
In life, field notes described BPBM 39813 (a juvenile) as “Slate gray above with yellow nuchal collar. Venter pale gray, with each scale darker anteriorly and lighter posteriorly”.” (Kraus et al. 2022) 
CommentSynonymy: previously considered a synonym of T. loriae but revalidated by Kraus et al. 2022. 
EtymologyNamed after Mt. Lamington (8.94°S, 148.16°E, elevation 1680 m), which was named after Lord Lamington, Charles Wallace Alexander Napier Cochrane-Baillie (1860–1940), was the 2nd Baron Lamington and a British colonial administrator, who served as the 8th Governor of Queensland (1896– 1901) and the 14th Governor of Bombay (1903–1907). 
  • Kinghorn, J. R. 1928. Notes on Some Reptiles and Batrachians from the Northern Division of Papua, With Descriptions of New Species of Apisthocalamus and Lygosoma. Rec. Austral. Mus. 16: 289-293. - get paper here
  • Kraus, F., Kaiser, H., & O’Shea, M. 2022. Hidden diversity in semi-fossorial Melanesian forest snakes: A revision of the Toxicocalamus loriae complex (Squamata, Elapidae) from New Guinea. Vertebrate Zoology, 72, 997-1034 - get paper here
  • McDowell, Samuel B. 1969. Toxicocalamus, a New Guinea genus of snakes of the family Elapidae. Journal of Zoology, London 159: 443-511 - get paper here
  • McDowell, Samuel B.;Cogger, Harold G. 1967. Aspidomorphus, a genus of New Guinea snakes of the family Elapidae, with notes on related genera. Journal of Zoology, London 151: 497-543 - get paper here
  • Roux, J. 1934. Contribution à la connaissance de la faune erpétologique des îles Salomon. [in 3 parts]. Verh. naturg. Ges. Basel, 45: 77-81
  • Strickland, J. L., Carter, S., Kraus, F. and Parkinson, C. L. 2016. Snake evolution in Melanesia: origin of the Hydrophiinae (Serpentes, Elapidae), and the evolutionary history of the enigmatic New Guinean elapid Toxicocalamus. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.doi: 10.1111/zoj.12423 - get paper here
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