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Ephalophis greyae SMITH, 1931

IUCN Red List - Ephalophis greyae - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaElapidae (Hydrophiinae), Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: North-western Mangrove Seasnake 
SynonymEphalophis greyi SMITH 1931: 397
Ephalophis greyi — SMITH 1974: 108
Ephalophis greyi — COGGER 1983: 248
Ephalophis greyi — WELCH 1994: 63
Ephalophis greyae — SHEA 1996
Ephalophis greyae — COGGER 2000: 711
Ephalophis greyi — KHARIN 2005
Ephalophis greyae — SANDERS et al. 2012
Ephalophis greyae — WALLACH et al. 2014: 275 
DistributionAustralia (Northern Territory?, Western Australia)

Type locality: Cape Boileau, W. A.  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.1.6.92 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Distinguished from Aipysurus duboisii (the other species of sea snake with 19 scale rows and broad ventrals) by its smooth symmetrical head shields and from Hydrelaps darwiniensis (the other small, greyish dark banded species) by presence of a preocular. (Smith 1974)

Description: A small sea snake (up to 661 mm). Body slightly tenuous anteriorly. Head small, canthus rostralis discernible but not prominent. Tail downcurved.
Rostral as wide as, or slightly wider than the frontal, which is 1.5 to 2 times as long as wide, and always wider than a supraocular. Preocular 1; postocular 1. Temporals: 1 anterior and 2 posterior (3 on one side once). Upper labials 6, second in contact with preocular, third and fourth entering orbit. Lower labials 7 (once 6), the fourth largest. Two pairs of chin shields prominent, in contact, posterior pair (the longer) almost separated by a small scale.
Midbody scale rows 19 (once 21), scales on the lower 4-6 rows on the flanks hexagonal, juxtaposed and smooth. Remaining dorsals imbricate, bluntly keeled, often with darker edgings. Ventrals 151-184 at midbody, at least 3 times as wide as adjacent dorsals; narrower anteriorly. Subcaudals 24-33 (males 27-33, females 24-27). (Smith 1974)

Coloration: Ground colour of adults grey with 27-30 dark grey to black incomplete bands (broken at ventrals), widest on back, their boundaries sometimes indistinct, and often confluent, and forming a zig-zag pattern down the back. In some specimens bands are faded mid-laterally leaving a dorsal bar and a spot on the lower flanks.
Ground colour of juveniles almost white or light grey with dark bands much more conspicuous. Ventrals light grey. Subadults with head mottled light and dark grey, the light grey remaining as a pale mark on posterior edge of upper and lower labials. (Smith 1974) 

Habitat: marine.

Type species: Ephalophis greyi SMITH 1931: 397 is the type species of the genus Ephalophis SMITH 1931. 
EtymologyNamed after Mrs. Beatrice Grey. Shea (1996) notes that the specifc name of the only species of the genus should be spelled greyae, not greyi. Since the species had been named in honour of a woman, the specific name must bear the feminine ending. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Cogger, H. G. 1975. The sea snakes of Australia and New Guinea. pp. 59-139 in Dunson, W. (ed. ) The Biology of Sea Snakes. Baltimore: University Park Press
  • 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.
  • McDowell, S. B. 1969. Notes on the Australian sea-snake Ephalophis greyi M. Smith (Serpentes: Elapidae: Hydrophiinae) and the origin and classification of sea-snakes. Zool. J. Linnean Soc. 48: 333-349 - get paper here
  • McDowell, S. B. 1974. Additional notes on the rare and primitive sea snake, Ephalophis greyi. Trans. Zool. Soc. Lond 32: 195-247 - get paper here
  • McDowell, S. B. 1974. Additional Notes on the Rare and Primitive Sea-Snake, Ephalophis greyi. Journal of Herpetology 8 (2): 123-128 - get paper here
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • RASMUSSEN, ARNE REDSTED; KATE LAURA SANDERS, MICHAEL L. GUINEA & ANDREW P. AMEY 2014. Sea snakes in Australian waters (Serpentes: subfamilies Hydrophiinae and Laticaudinae)—a review with an updated identification key. Zootaxa 3869 (4): 351–371 - get paper here
  • Sanders, K.L.; Michael S.Y. Lee, Mumpuni, Terry Bertozzi, Arne R. Rasmussen 2012. Multilocus phylogeny and recent rapid radiation of the viviparous sea snakes (Elapidae: Hydrophiinae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66 (3): 575-591 - get paper here
  • Shea, Glenn M. 1996. Correction of the incorrect original spelling of the species name of a Hydrophiid snake. The Snake 27 (2): 157
  • 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, L. A. 1974. The sea snakes of Western Australia (Serpentes: Elapidae: Hydrophiinae) with a description of a new subspecies. Rec. West. Aust. Mus. 3: 93-110 - get paper here
  • Smith, M. A. 1931. Description of a new genus of sea snake from the coast of Australia, with a note on the structure providing for complete closure of the mouth in aquatic snakes. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1931: 397-398
  • 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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