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Antaresia papuensis ESQUERRÉ, DONNELLAN, PAVÓN-VÁZQUEZ, FENKER & KEOGH, 2021

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Higher TaxaPythonidae, Henophidia, Pythonoidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Papuan Spotted Python 
SynonymAntaresia papuensis ESQUERRÉ, DONNELLAN, PAVÓN-VÁZQUEZ, FENKER & KEOGH 2021
Antaresia maculosa — O’SHEA et al. 2004
Antaresia maculosa — NATUSCH & LYONS 2011 
DistributionAustralia (Queensland: Badu Island, Torres Strait), Papua New Guinea, Indonesia (West Papua)

Type locality: Badu Island, Torres Strait, Queensland (10.12° S; 142.12° E)  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. AMS (Australian Museum, Sydney) 58,998 (male) collected by H. Heatwole in December 1976. Paratypes: PNGM (Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery) 25,085 collected at Weam, Western Province, Papua New Guinea (8.61° S; 141.12° E) by M. O’Shea in August 2000. AMS R47895 (female) collected at Hammond Island, Torres Strait, Queensland (10.53° S; 142.22° E) by P. Webber in March 1975. AMS R46906 and AMS R47383 collected at Moa Island, Torres Strait, Queensland (10.18° S; 142.27° E) by P. Webber, Cameron and Young in February 1975. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. The clade found in our analyses that we call maculosa c. It differs from Antaresia perthensis by a larger body size (max. SVL 1080 mm vs 670 mm) and a higher number of ventrals (253–284 vs 213–247). It differs from A. childreni by lacking a space between the blotches in the anterior third of the body creating a pale stripe and by normally having more ragged edges on its blotches. It differs from A. m. maculosa and A. m. peninsularis by having a far less contrasted pattern (vs a pattern of large contrasted blotches), with small scattered spots rather than large and dark irregular blotches. It also sometimes displays two or three prefontal scales (vs always four or more). It additionally differs from A. m. peninsularis by sometimes having two postocular scales (vs always three or four).

Description. Morphometric data of the type series can be found in Table S6. A small python, with a maximum recorded SVL of 1080 mm. Maximum tail length (TL) is 95 mm, average TL/SVL is 0.094. Average HL/SVL is 0.038, average HL/HW is 1.94. Maximum mid-body girth is 85 mm, and it is on average 1.72 times thicker than the neck.
Head scalation comprises large symmetrical shields. One large roughly hexagonal frontal scale. Two parietal scales directly in contact with the frontal, posterior to which scales are largely undifferentiated. Parietals in contact. One large supraocular above each eye. Two to four large prefrontal scales. Two internasal scales. Rostral scale in contact with internasals, nasal and first supralabials. There are 10–12 supralabials with an average of 10.6; and 10–14 infralabials with an average of 12. Four of the infralabials have conspicuous heat pits. There is a single large, anteriorly pointed preocular scale, with sometimes an additional much smaller one between this and the fourth and/or fifth supralabial scales. There are 3–5 irregularly sized loreal scales. Two to four postocular scales. Dorsal scales are smooth, rhomboidal and slightly overlapping. In some cases, these are more elongated anteriorly and becoming more compact towards the tail. Ventral scales are transversally elongated shields; they range from 253 to 284, with an average of 270.6. Anal scale is single (undivided). Subcaudal scales range from 40 to 48 with an average of 42.8, most of them divided but sometimes fused towards the tip of the tail.
Background colouration ranges between light to dark brown. There are small and irregular dark brown blotches along the dorsal surface, with ragged edges. There is a slightly iridescent sheen to the skin. 
Comment 
EtymologyThe Latin name papuensis derives from Papua, one of the names given to the island of New Guinea, where this taxon is found. 
References
  • Esquerré, Damien, Stephen C Donnellan, Carlos J Pavón-Vázquez, Jéssica Fenker, and J Scott Keogh. 2021. Phylogeography, Historical Demography and Systematics of the World’s Smallest Pythons (Pythonidae, Antaresia). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 161: 107181 - get paper here
 
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