Emydocephalus orarius NANKIVELL, GOIRAN, HOURSTON, SHINE, RASMUSSEN, THOMSON & SANDERS, 2020
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|Higher Taxa||Elapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)|
|Synonym||Emydocephalus orarius NANKIVELL, GOIRAN, HOURSTON, SHINE, RASMUSSEN, THOMSON & SANDERS 2020|
|Distribution||Australia (Western Australia)|
Type locality: Shark Bay (25°15`38”S, 113°08`19”E), WA
|Types||Holotype. WAM R165708. Adult male collected on 10/02/2006 by G. Parry.|
Paratypes. WAM R73661 (female), Pilbara coast (20°00`00”S, 116°40`00”E); WAM R47852 (male), Barrow Island (20°48`00”S, 115°24`00”E); WAM R73651 (male), Pilbara coast (19°26`00”S, 118°49`00”E); WAM R73662 (male), Legendre Island (19°30`00”S, 116°42`00”E); WAM R174521 (female), Dampier (20°39`00”S, 116°41`00”E).
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis. A large (maximum recorded 116 cm TL) Emydocephalus species that usually differs from its congeners by the possession of two prefrontal scales, first supralabial in contact with preocular scale, enlarged tubercules on ventral scales of adult males, body pattern consisting of 19–21 bands. Genetically diagnosed from all other sequenced Emydocephalus by the following ND4 sites: 84(C), 111(A), 177(C), 195(C), 234(C), 261(C), 273(T), 288(C), 294(C), 342(T), 357(C), 396(T), 414(C), 486(G), 510(G), 569(C), 576(C), 609(C), 651(A), 667(G), 669(T).|
Comparisons. Emydocephalus orarius sp. nov. can usually be distinguished from E. ijimae in having two prefrontal scales (versus usually three or four pre-frontal scales), an elongated first supralabial scale which contacts the pre-ocular and often in colour pattern with a lower and non-overlapping number of bands when they are present (19–21 versus 24–32 in E. ijimae). Male E. orarius sp. nov. also have higher mean numbers of ventral scales (144.8 versus 141.7 in E. ijimae) and subcaudal scales (32.3 versus 27.8 in E. ijimae) and lower mean scale rows around the midbody (17 versus 18.1 in E. ijimae) and neck (15 versus 16.1 in E. ijimae) (Table 1). Mature male E. orarius sp. nov. also possess tubercules on the body whereas in E. ijimae these are absent. The two female E. orarius sp. nov. available for study also have a higher number of ventral scales (at least 144 versus less than 142 in E. ijimae). Emydocephalus orarius sp. nov. can usually be distinguished E. annulatus populations in the Australian region (both Timor Sea and Coral Sea) in having a higher number of ventral scales (mean 144.7 versus 136.9 in E. annulatus (Tables 1 and 2); usually possessing a distinctively elongated first supralabial scale that contacts the pre-ocular scale (10 out of 11 individuals examined) versus a much smaller first supralabial that does not contact the pre-ocular (4 of 32 E. annulatus examined did have an enlarged first supralabial contacting the pre-ocular) (Fig. 6 in Nankivell et al 2020).
|Etymology||The species epithet ‘orarius’ (Latin, ‘coastal’) refers to the coastal Western Australian distribution of the new species. Other species of Emydocephalus are found on coral reefs, typically on clear oceanic reefs some distance away from coastlines of major landmasses.|
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