Leiopython fredparkeri SCHLEIP, 2008
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|Higher Taxa||Pythonidae, Henophidia, Pythonoidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)|
|Common Names||E: Southern whitelip python|
E: Karimui Basin whitelip python [fredparkeri]
E: Wau White-lipped Python [montanus]
|Synonym||Leiopython hoserae HOSER 2000|
Leiopython albertisii bennetti HOSER 2000
Leiopython bennettorum — WÜSTER et al. 2001
Leiopython hoserae — SCHLEIP 2008: 656
Leiopython bennettorum — SCHLEIP 2008: 658
Leiopython fredparkeri SCHLEIP 2008: 659
Bothrochilus hoserae — REYNOLDS et al. 2014
Leiopython meridionalis SCHLEIP 2014
Leiopython montanus SCHLEIP 2014
Bothrochilus fredparkeri — REYNOLDS et al. 2014
Bothrochilus bennettorum — REYNOLDS et al. 2014
Bothrochilus hoserae — REYNOLDS et al. 2014
Bothrochilus montanus — REYNOLDS et al. 2014 (by implication)
Leiopython hoserae — WALLACH et al. 2014: 366
Leiopython bennettorum — WALLACH et al. 2014: 366
Leiopython fredparkeri — WALLACH et al. 2014: 366
Leiopython meridionalis — BARKER et al. 2015
Leiopython fredparkeri — BARKER et al. 2015
Leiopython montanus — BARKER et al. 2015
Leiopython meridionalis — NATUSCH et al. 2020
Leiopython meridionalis — ESQUERRÉ et al. 2020
|Distribution||Papua New Guinea (Western Province)|
Type locality: Wipim, Western Province, Papua New Guinea
montanus: Papua New Guinea; Type locality: near Wau, Morobe Province, PNG
fredparkeri: Papua New Guinea, elevation 1100-1500 m. Type locality: Karimui, Chimbu District, Simbu Province, PNG
|Types||Holotype: AMNH 107150|
Holotype: BPBM 5452 [montanus]
Holotype: CAS 118906, A large male (everted hemipenes) collected by F. Parker 7 July 1967 [fredparkeri]
|Diagnosis||Diagnosis: Leiopython meridionalis is distinguished from L. albertisii by dark grey, brown or black dorsal colouration (versus dark yellow or golden in L. albertisii); absence of small specks of white patterning on the postocular scales in all specimens; generally a single pair of parietal scales (as opposed to two pairs in most L. albertisii); and a higher mean number of dorsal midbody scales and fewer ventral scales than L. al- bertisii. Relative to its body length, L. meridionalis has a longer and wider head than L. albertisii and preliminary data suggest that L. mer- idionalis grows to a larger maximum body size (Natusch and Lyons, 2012). Leiopython meridionalis is easily differentiated from L. albertisii on the basis of molecular genetic information (Natusch et al. 2020).|
Description: Leiopython meridionalis is a large and robust python species growing to > 2.5 m in total length and ~ 3.5 kg in mass in wild (Natusch and Lyons, 2012). The head is black dorsally and distinct from the neck. The jaws are white ventrally with thin black bars on the anterior edges of the supralabial and infralabial scales (McDowell, 1975; Schleip, 2008). The body is dark grey or brown to black, becoming lighter laterally and fading to white or cream on the ventral surface. The head and body are strongly iridescent. The sexes do not appear to be sexually dimorphic (Natusch et al. 2020).
Diagnosis. Leiopython hoserae can be distinguished from Leiopython fredparkeri, Leiopython albertisii, and Leiopython biakensis by the presence of only one pair of parietals followed by a characteristic scale pattern of two small scales separated from the median line by an elongate scale that gets wider posteriorly (see Fig. 2B, 6C in SCHLEIP 2008). It further differs from the former species in a lower average number of dorsal midbody rows (KW-test: x21 = 5.68, P = 0.05), and from the latter two species by the absence of the whitish postocular spot. Furthermore, Leiopython hoserae exceeds Leiopython albertisii and Leiopython biakensis in adult and hatchling body size and is darker in color (Parker, 1982; Barker and Barker, 1994; O’Shea, 1996). Molecular evidence also supports the separation of Leiopython hoserae from Leiopython albertisii (genetic distance of up to 9.3%). It differs from Leiopython bennettorum in the number of loreals and prefrontals as well as in lower midbody scale row counts (KW-test: x21 = 8.92, P = 0.01) and in the average number of postoculars (KW-test: x21 = 7.19, P = 0.01). Leiopython hoserae can be distinguished from Leiopython huonensis by the absence of the whitish postocular spot, the characteristic scale arrangement in the parietal region (Leiopython huonensis has one pair of parietals followed by small, irregular scales) and in higher ventral scale counts (KW-test: x21 = 6.62, P = 0.05). Leiopython hoserae also occurs in drier and hotter climate conditions than other taxa of the genus (detailed in SCHLEIP 2008).
Diagnosis. Leiopython bennettorum is easily distinguishable from all other members of the genus Leiopython by higher loreal scale count and by a second pair of small lateral prefrontals (Fig. 6E, F). Furthermore, higher average midbody scale row and postocular scale counts separate this species from Leiopython hoserae (KWtest: x21 = 8.92, P = 0.01 and x21 = 7.19, P = 0.05), Leiopython huonensis (KW-test: x215 4.48, P = 0.05 and x21 = 3.95, P = 0.05), Leiopython fredparkeri (KW-test: x21 = 5.30, P = 0.05 and x21 = 4.28, P = 0.05), and Leiopython albertisii (KWtest: x21 = 7.98, P = 0.01 and x21 = 14.22, P = 0.001). It can also be distinguished from the latter two species in having only one pair of parietals and, additionally, differs from Leiopython albertisii and Leiopython biakensis by the absence of the whitish postocular spot (contra Hoser, 2000, from Schleip 2008: 658).
Diagnosis (montanus). A detailed diagnosis and description can be found in Schleip (2008:658–659 under the heading ‘‘Leiopython bennettorum’’ (given above). Leiopython montanus sp. nov. can be distinguished easily from all other members of the genus Leiopython by a higher loreal scale count and by a second pair of small lateral prefrontals. Furthermore, higher average midbody scale row and postocular scale counts separate this species from L. meridionalis, Leiopython huonensis (Huon White-lipped Python), L. fredparkeri, and L. albertisii (from Schleip 2014, based on 5 specimens).
Diagnosis. Leiopython fredparkeri differs from Leiopython albertisii and Leiopython biakensis in the absence of the whitish postocular spot, and in higher infralabial counts (KW-test: x21 5 28.22, P , 0.001 and x21 5 5.06, P , 0.05). It further differs from the former species by lower ventral counts (KW-test: x21 5 7.58, P , 0.01). This species is distinguishable from Leiopython bennettorum by loreal, prefrontal, and lower average postocular scale counts (KW-test: x21 5 4.28, P , 0.05), from Leiopython huonensis by the absence of the whitish postocular spot, and from the latter species and Leiopython hoserae in having two pairs of parietals (Schleip 2008: 659).
|Comment||Synonymy: Natusch et al. 2020 synonymized L. montanus and L. fredparkeri (including their synonyms) with L. meridionalis, but fredparkeri has priority over meridionalis.|
|Etymology||The specific name meridionalis derives from the Latin for ‘southern,’ in reference to the fact that this species was often referred to as the southern form of White-Lipped Pythons.|
The specific name montanus derives from the Latin adjective for ‘living on a hill,’ in reference to the topography near the town of Wau.
L. fredparkeri was named in honor of the collector of these and many other specimens, the herpetologist Fred Parker, Townsville, Australia.
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