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Toxicocalamus loennbergii (BOULENGER, 1908)

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Higher TaxaElapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Lönnberg’s forest snake 
SynonymApisthocalamus loennbergii BOULENGER 1908: 248
Apistocalamus loennbergi – Sternfeld 1913: 387
Apistocalamus lönnbergi – DE ROOIJ 1917: 260
Apistocalamus loriae (part) – MCDOWELL 1967: 537
Toxicocalamus (Apistocalamus) loriae – MCDOWELL, 1969: 456 (part)
Apisthocalamus loennbergi — KOERBER 2009
Toxicocalamus loennbergii — KRAUS et al. 2022: 1014 
DistributionIndonesia (West Papua Province: Onin Peninsula)

Type locality: both Indonesia: West Papua: north of Fakfak  
Reproductionoviparous; a specimen contained seven eggs (O’Shea et al. 2018: 422). 
TypesLectotype: BMNH 1946.1.18.24, paralectotypes: BMNH 1946.1.18.25– 1946.1.18.26, collected by Antwerp Edgar Pratt ca. 1905 (fide Kraus et al. 2022). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: “A modestly sized member of the T. loriae Group (maximum SVL 565 mm, only females known) with the following unique combination of characters: two scales covering vent; four infralabials contacting anterior genial; a single intergenial separating posterior genials, widest posteriorly. Preocular elongate, approximately twice as long as wide, contacting nasal (62%) or not (38%), not contacting internasal; relatively short snout (SNL/ SNW x̄ = 0.95, range = 0.93–0.99); relatively small eye (EY/SNL x̄ = 0.16, range = 0.15–0.18); one postocular (fused to supraocular on one side of one specimen); three posterior temporals; 214–220 ventrals in four females; 23–32 subcaudals; SCR 9.7–12.7%; dark vertebral stripe; large pale blotch on parietal; pale markings on prefrontals absent (50%), small or vaguely developed (25%), or well developed (25%), best developed in the smallest specimen; tail spine white, paler than remainder of tail; and venter uniformly yellow.” (Kraus et al. 2022: 1014)

Comparisons. “Toxicocalamus loennbergii can be distinguished from all other members of the T. loriae Group except some T. loriae and juvenile T. nymani by its uniformly yellow venter. It can be distinguished from T. loriae in having only a single intergenial (two in T. loriae) and from juvenile T. nymani by having four infralabials in contact with the anterior genial (three in 87.5% of T. nymani), a single postocular (usually two in T. nymani), and a dark vertebral stripe (absent in T. nymani). It can further be distinguished from T. nigrescens by its greater number of ventrals (214–220 vs. 184–193 in female T. nigrescens), and dark vertebral stripe (absent in T. nigrescens); and from T. mattisoni in having the preocular contact the nasal (separated by prefrontal contact with the second supralabial in T. mattisoni), its greater number of ventrals (214–220 vs. 170–181 in female T. mattisoni), and dark vertebral stripe (absent in T. mattisoni).” (Kraus et al. 2022: 1014)

Description of the lectotype. “An adult female, 565 mm SVL + 55 mm TL = 620 mm TTL. Rostral wider than tall, notched ventromedially; internasals angulate, semi-triangular, wider than long. Prefrontals distinct from preoculars, approximately square, rounded posterolaterally, bordered below by preocular and nasal, in point contact with second supralabial on right side; preoculars elongate, narrower anteriorly, approximately twice as long as tall (Fig. 1C, C’), bordered anteriorly by nasal, below by second and third supralabials (Fig. 2E, E’, F, F’). Nasal divided by large naris, without grooves above or below naris. Postoculars one on left, fused to supraocular on right; irregularly hexagonal in shape, longer than tall, occupying approximately same area as eye. 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; one elongate anterior temporal above fifth and sixth supralabials, separating sixth from parietal; three posterior temporals, lowest abutting posterodorsal margin of sixth supralabial. Supralabials six, third and fourth contacting eye; infralabials six, first four in contact with anterior genial. Mental small, shallow, triangular, wider than long, bordered posteriorly by first supralabials; anterior genials slightly larger than posterior genials, in medial contact along their entire length; posterior genials in medial contact for first 20% of their length; intergenial single, diamond-shaped, widest posteriorly; five gulars separate intergenials from first ventral in the midline; first sublabial separates posterior genial from fifth infralabial on right but not on left (Fig. 3C, C’). Eye relatively small; pupil round.
Dorsal scales smooth, not notched posteriorly, without apical pits, in 15-15-15 rows; Ventrals 214, each approximately four times wider than long; two scales covering vent; subcaudals 23, paired. Tail tipped by a blunt conical spine.
In preservative (108 years after collection), dorsum reddish brown, darker mid-dorsally, with darker-brown vertebral stripe one scale wide; each dorsal scale with darker brown edges, imparting a reticulated appearance to dorsum, especially laterally. Venter uniformly pale yellow; subcaudals lightly edged in brown at their medial junctures. Supralabials pale yellow ventrally, suffused with brown dorsally. Top of head with vague traces of yellow blotches on parietals and anterior temporals; no pale nuchal collar. Chin and throat pale yellow, with small amount of brown suffusion on mental, sutures between infralabials, and anterior suture of anterior genial. Tail spine brown above and white below. Iris black.” (Kraus et al. 2022: 1014)

Variation. “All specimens are female. Prefrontals are bordered below by the preocular and the nasal, but they are in point contact with the second supralabial on one side in two specimens; preoculars are bordered below by the second and third supralabials, except by only the third supralabial on the right side of BMNH 1946.1.18.25. One postocular, except when it is fused to the supraocular on the right side of BMNH 1946.1.18.24, smaller than or occupying approximately same area as the eye. Six supralabials, except seven on the right side of MCZ R-76634; third and fourth supralabials contact the eye, except when Supralabial 2 also contacts it, as on the right side of MCZ R-76634. The posterior genials are entirely separated by a single elongate intergenial in MCZ R-76634, in point contact anteriorly in BMNH 1946.1.18.26, and in medial contact for the first 20–35% of length in the remaining two specimens.
Dorsal scales invariably in 15-15-15 rows. Ventrals 214–220 (216 ± 2); subcaudals 23–32 (28 ± 3); SCR 9.7– 12.7% (11.3 ± 1.1%). Tail tipped by a blunt to pointed conical spine. Maximum SVL 565 mm, TLR 8.9–11.2% (10.2 ± 0.9%).
In preservative, all specimens are coloured as the holotype dorsally and ventrally. Subcaudals are lightly edged in brown at their medial junctures but dusted with brown posteriorly in MCZ R-76634. Supralabials are pale yellow ventrally, variably suffused with brown on dorsal portions of some or all supralabials (absent on second supralabial in two specimens). In the smallest specimen (BMNH 1946.1.18.25, SVL = 373 mm), yellow markings occupy a band across the prefrontals and the anterior portion of the frontal, there is a large yellow blotch on each parietal and a complete yellow collar. In BMNH 1946.1.18.26, there is a yellow blotch on each anterior temporal in addition to these other markings. In larger specimens, these markings become suffused with brown and may disappear, with the markings on the prefrontals disappearing first. Conical tail spine white or brown above and white below (BMNH 1946.1.18.24).” (Kraus et al. 2022: 1014) 
CommentHabitat: fossorial (digging)

Behavior: diurnal

EtymologyNamed by Boulenger (1908) for Professor Einar Lönnberg (1865–1942), the Swedish zoologist who described Pseudapistocalamus nymani. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G. A. 1898. An account of the reptiles and batrachians collected by Dr. L. Loria in British New Guinea. Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova, 18: 694—710 [1897?] - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1908. Description of a new elapine snake of the genus Apisthocalamus, Blg., from New Guinea. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (8) 1 (3): 248-249. - get paper here
  • Boulenger, GEORGE A. 1904. Descriptions of three new snakes. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (7) 13 (78): 450-452 - get paper here
  • Clegg, Jonathan R. and Merlijn Jocque 2015. The Collection of Snakes Made by Benoît Mys and Jan Swerts in Northern Papua New Guinea in 1982–85. Journal of Herpetology 50 (3): 476-485 [2016] - get paper here
  • 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
  • Koerber, S. 2009. From sponges to primates: emendation of 30 species nomina dedicated to the Swedish zoologist Einar Lönnberg. Zootaxa 2201: 63–68 - get paper here
  • Kraus, Fred 2009. NEW SPECIES OF TOXICOCALAMUS (SQUAMATA: ELAPIDAE) FROM PAPUA NEW GUINEA. Herpetologica 65 (4): 460 - 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
  • O'Shea,M. 1996. A Guide to the Snakes of Papua New Guinea. Independent Publishing, Port Moresby, xii + 239 pp. - get paper here
  • O’Shea, Mark; Allen Allison, Hinrich Kaiser 2018. The taxonomic history of the enigmatic Papuan snake genus Toxicocalamus (Elapidae: Hydrophiinae), with the description of a new species from the Managalas Plateau of Oro Province, Papua New Guinea, and a revised dichotomous key. Amphibia-Reptilia 39 (4): 403-433 - get paper here
  • O’Shea, Mark; Fred Parker, and Hinrich Kaiser 2015. A New Species of New Guinea Worm-Eating Snake, Genus Toxicocalamus (Serpentes: Elapidae), From the Star Mountains of Western Province, Papua New Guinea, With a Revised Dichotomous Key to the Genus. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 161 (6): 241-264. - get paper here
  • Parker, H.W. 1936. A collection of reptiles and amphibians from the mountains of British New Guinea. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (10) 17: 66-93 - 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.
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