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Demansia vestigiata (DE VIS, 1884)

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Higher TaxaElapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Black whip snake 
SynonymHoplocephalus vestigiatus DE VIS 1884
Diemenia atra MACLEAY 1884: 549
Demansia superba BOULENGER 1896
Diemenia maculiceps BOETTGER 1898 (fide COGGER 1983)
Demansia atra COGGER 1975
Demansia atra — STORR 1978: 299
Demansia vestigiata HUTCHINSON 1990
Demansia atra — WELCH 1994: 53
Demansia vestigiata — WELCH 1994: 53
Demansia atra — SHINE 1994
Demansia atra — COGGER 2000: 639
Demansia vestigiata — SHEA & SCANLON 2007
Demansia vestigiata — WILSON & SWAN 2010
Demansia vestigiata — WALLACH et al. 2014: 215
Demansia vestigiata — MIRTSCHIN et al. 2017 
DistributionS Papua New Guinea,
Australia (Northern Territory, N Queensland, Western Australia)

Type locality: Ingham, Queensland, Australia.  
TypesHolotype: QM J206 (vestigiata)
Syntypes: AM B5941, AM R31920 [atra]
Holotype, SMF 20498 [maculiceps] 
CommentSynonymy: Smith and Wallach 1997 proposed to conserve the specific name of Demansia atra (Macleay, 1884, (published 29 November)). The name is threatened by the synonym Hoplocephalus vestigiatus De Vis, 1884 (published 13 September) the latter of which was published two months earlier but remained unused until 1990.

Distribution: D. papuensis is now believed to be confined to Australia, despite its name, and D.atra in NG is now known as D. vestigata (Mark O’Shea and John Pilgrim, pers. comm.; SHEA & SCANLON 2007).

EtymologyNamed after its color, Latin “ater, atra, atrum” = dark or black. 
  • Boettger, O. 1898. Katalog der Reptilien-Sammlung im Museum der Senckenbergischen Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Frankfurt/M. 2.Teil (Schlangen). [type catalogue] Frankfurt/M (Gebr. Knauer), i-ix + 1-160. - get paper here
  • Charlton, T. 2019. Ingestion of a Discarded Foam Ear Plug by a Wild Lesser Black Whip Snake (Demansia vestigiata; De Vis, 1884) in Central Province, Papua New Guinea. Captive & Field Herpetology 3 (1): 60-61 - get paper here
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • De Vis, C. W. 1884. Descriptions of a new snake with a synopsis of the genus Hoplocephalus. Proc. Roy. Soc. Queensland 1: 138-140 - get paper here
  • De Vis, CW. 1884. On a new Species of Hoplocephalus. Proc. Roy. Soc. Queensland 1: 100 - get paper here
  • Fearn, S.; D. F. Trembath 2009. Body size, food habits, reproduction and growth in a population of black whip snakes (Demansia vestigiata) (Serpentes: Elapidae) in tropical Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology 57(1): 49–54 - get paper here
  • ICZN 1999. OPINION 1940. Hoplocephalus vestigiatus De Vis, 1884 (Reptilia, Serpentes): specific name placed on the Official List. Bull. Zool. Nomenclature 56 (3) - get paper here
  • Kelehear, C. 2012. Demansia vestigiata (lesser black whipsnake) diet. Herpetological Review 43: 659 - get paper here
  • Macleay, W. 1884. Census of Australian snakes with descriptions of two new species. Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 9: 548-568 - get paper here
  • Mirtschin, P., Rasmussen, A.R. & Weinstein, S.A. 2017. Australia’s Dangerous snakes. CSIRO Publishing, 424 pp. - 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, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Shea, G.M. & Scanlon 2007. Revision of the small tropical whipsnakes previously referred to Demansia olivacea (Gray, 1842) and Demansia torquata (Guenther, 1862) (Squamata: Elapidae). Rec. Austral. Mus. 59 (2-3): 117-142 - get paper here
  • Shine, Richard 1994. Sexual size dimorphism in snakes revisited. Copeia 1994 (2): 326-346 - get paper here
  • Shine, Richard; Claire Goiran, Catherine Shilton, Shai Meiri, Gregory P Brown 2019. The life aquatic: an association between habitat type and skin thickness in snakes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, blz136 - get paper here
  • Smith H M. Wallach V. 1997. Diemenia atra Macleay, 1884 (currently Demansia atra; Reptilia, Serpentes): Proposed conservation of the specific name. Bull. Zool. Nomenclature 54, (1): 31-34. - get paper here
  • Somaweera, R. 2009. Snakes of Darwin. Poster, University of Sydney
  • 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.
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
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