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Vermicella parscauda DEREZ, ARBUCKLE, RUAN, XIE, HUANG, DIBBEN, SHI, VONK & FRY, 2018

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Higher TaxaElapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common Names 
SynonymVermicella parscauda DEREZ, ARBUCKLE, RUAN, XIE, HUANG, DIBBEN, SHI, VONK & FRY 2018 
DistributionAustralia (Queensland)

Type locality: boat ramp Weipa, Cape York, Queensland, 12°31’53” S 141°50’51’’E  
TypesHolotype: QM J95807 (given as J95678 by Derez et al. 2018), large male collected in August 2014 by B.G. Fry and F.J. Vonk. Fixed in 10% formalin, stored in 70% ethanol at QM. Paratypes. QM J95808 (given as J95679 by Derez et al. 2018), small male squashed during mining company workplace activities, Evans Landing, Weipa, Qld (1240’21”S, 14152’09”E); AM R94414, unsexed individual, Mission River, Weipa, Qld (1240’59”S, 14152’59”E); CSIRO R02719, adult female, Rocky Point, Weipa, Qld (1237’00”S, 14152’00”E). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A small Vermicella to total 388 mm in length. Distinguished from all other Australian Vermicella by a combination of 55–92 black bands, white bands mottled posterior of scale, SVL 267–357 mm, tail length 21– 31 mm, 213–230 ventral scales, head length 5–8 mm, head width 3–5 mm and present internasal scales (Figure 1). Ventrals dark black or mottled with distinct black rings on the posterior body and tail, each ring covering 2–3 divided caudal scales and 1–2 white divided caudal scales in between the black rings. 
CommentSynonymy: Keogh & Smith (1996) examined the holotypes QM J 192 of V. latizonatus (DeVis, 1905) ‘possibly from Herberton’, Queensland and AM R 131709 of V. lunulata (Krefft, 1869) from near Townsville, Queensland and found them be variations of V. annulata, disregarding the resurrection of the two species by Wells & Wellington (1985). The locations of these specimens are not on the Cape York peninsula and photographs of the specimen QM J 192 on the database website Atlas of Living Australia (2017) show an individual with V. annulata band characteristics. Derez et al. therefore conclude Vermicella parscauda sp. nov. is a new species and not a previous species to be resurrected.

Conservation. Only 6 individuals of Vermicella parscauda sp. nov. have been recorded and the presumed habitat on Cape York is the site of broad-scale mining. Activities that disturb the soil, such as commercial digging for mining purposes, may adversely affect V. parscauda, given the burrowing behavior of the Vermicella genus. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is modified from the Latin words pars (part) and cauda (tail) in reference to the tail length and formed bands on the tail. 
  • DEREZ, CHANTELLE M.; KEVIN ARBUCKLE, ZHIQIANG RUAN, BING XIE, YU HUANG, LAUREN DIBBEN, QIONG SHI, FREEK J. VONK, BRYAN G. FRY 2018. A new species of bandy-bandy (Vermicella: Serpentes: Elapidae) from the Weipa region, Cape York, Australia. Zootaxa 4446 (1): 001–012 [erratum in Zootaxa 4461(4): 600] - get paper here
  • Keogh, J.S.; Smith, S.A. 1996. Taxonomy and natural history of the Australian bandy-bandy snakes (Elapidae: Vermicella) with a description of two new species. Journal of Zoology 240: 677-701 - get paper here
  • Wells, R. W. and Wellington, C. R. 1985. A classification of the Amphibia and Reptilia of Australia. Australian Journal of Herpetology, Supplementary Series (1): 1-61 [sometimes cited as 1983] - get paper here
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