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Nyctophilopython oenpelliensis (GOW, 1977)

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Higher TaxaPythonidae, Henophidia, Pythonoidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Oenpelli Rock Python
G: Oenpelli-Python 
SynonymPython oenpelliensis GOW 1977
Nyctophilopython oenpelliensis — WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985
Morelia oenpelliensis — KLUGE 1993
Morelia oenpelliensis — MATTISON 1995: 177
Morelia oenpelliensis — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 173
Morelia oenpelliensis — COGGER 2000: 613
Nyctophilopython oenpelliensis — HOSER 2001
Morelia oenpelliensis — MATTISON 2007: 179
Simalia oenpelliensis — REYNOLDS et al. 2014
Morelia oenpelliensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 453
Morelia oenpelliensis — COGGER 2014: 828
Simalia oenpelliensis — BARKER et al. 2015: 13
Nyctophylopython oenpelliensis — BARKER et al. 2015: Table 1 (in error)
Nawaran oenpelliensis — ESQUERRÉ et al. 2020
Nyctophilopython oenpelliensis — KAISER et al. 2020 
DistributionAustralia (Northern Territory)

Type locality: 6.5 km south-west of Oenpelli (12°21’S, 133°01’E), NT, Australia  
TypesHolotype: NTM R0840 
DiagnosisDiagnosis and definition (genus): A lineage endemic to northern Australia that underwent a rapid divergence from Antaresia and Morelia, and showing intermediate traits between the two. They are slender and long snakes, with adults up to over 4 meters in total length, larger than any Morelia and especially the dwarfed Antaresia. Pale brownish to olive coloration, with longitudinal rows of large dark blotches. Enlarged nasal, internasal, anterior pre-frontals, supraocular and frontal symmetrical head shields. The posterior prefrontals are usually several smaller asymmetrical scales. In Morelia head scales are smaller and more divided, in Antaresia and Simalia there are no small divided posterior prefrontals. Heat pits present on rostral, first three supralabials and posterior infralabial scales. They are the only pythons with over 400 ventral scales. Along with Aspidites, this is one of the two python genera that are endemic to Australia (Esquerré et al. 2020).

Diagnosis: “A genus of large elongate pythons possessing strongly prehensile tails, deeply pitted anterior labials, indistinct parietal shield formation that results in almost total dorsal head scale fragmentation, fragmented loreals, smooth body scales in 70 rows, from about 425 to 450 ventral scutes, entire anal scale, 155 to 165 subcaudals (anterior few entire, remainder divided), oviparous reproduction and a maximum size of around 5 metres. Known only from the extreme northern sector of the Northern Territory.” (Wells & Wellington 1985: 42). 
CommentType species: Python oenpelliensis GOW 1977 is the type species of the genus Nawaran gen. nov. Esquerré et al. 2020 as well as the genus Nyctophilopython Wells & Wellington 1985. We follow Kaiser et al. 2020 in recognizing Nyctophilopython over Nawaran. Note that the name Morelia oenpelliensis would be equally acceptable and phylogenetically correct. 
EtymologyNawaran is the traditional name of the snake given by the people of Arnhem Land, where Nawaran oenpelliensis lives. 
  • Alcini, S. 2009. Seltene und wenig bekannte Pythons aus Australien - Teil 3: Der Oenpelli-Python, Morelia oenpelliensis. Reptilia (Münster) 14 (79): 38-42 - get paper here
  • Barker, D. G., Barker, T. M., Davis, M. A. and Schuett, G. W. 2015. A review of the systematics and taxonomy of Pythonidae: an ancient serpent lineage. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 175 (1): 1-19; doi: 10.1111/zoj.12267 - get paper here
  • 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. 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.
  • Esquerré, Damien; Stephen Donnellan, Ian G Brennan, Alan R Lemmon, Emily Moriarty Lemmon, Hussam Zaher, Felipe G Grazziotin, J Scott Keogh 2020. Phylogenomics, Biogeography, and Morphometrics Reveal Rapid Phenotypic Evolution in Pythons After Crossing Wallace’s Line. Systematic Biology, 69 (6): 1039–1051 - get paper here
  • Gow, G.F. 1977. A new species of python from Amhem Land. Australian Zoologist 19: 133—139
  • Hoser, Raymond 2000. A Revision of the Australasian pythons. Ophidia Review 1: 7-27
  • Kaiser, Hinrich; Scott A. Thomson & Glenn M. Shea 2020. Nawaran Esquerré, Donnellan, Brennan, Lemmon, Lemmon, Zaher, Grazziotin & Keogh, 2020 is an invalid junior synonym of Nyctophilopython Wells & Wellington, 1985 (Squamata, Pythonidae): simple priority without Zoobank pre-registration. Bionomina, 20: 47–54 - get paper here
  • Kluge, Arnold G. 1993. Aspidites and the phylogeny of Pythonine snakes. Rec. Austral. Mus. (Supplement 19): 1-77 - get paper here
  • Mattison, Chris 1995. The Encyclopedia of Snakes. New York: Facts on File, 256 pp.
  • Mattison, Chris 2007. The New Encyclopedia of Snakes. Princeton University Press
  • McDiarmid, R.W.; Campbell, J.A. & Touré,T.A. 1999. Snake species of the world. Vol. 1. [type catalogue] Herpetologists’ League, 511 pp.
  • Murphy, John C. & Tom Crutchfield 2019. Giant Snakes - A Natural History. Book Services, 345 pp. - get paper here
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Reynolds, R. Graham; Matthew L. Niemiller, Liam J. Revell 2014. Toward a Tree-of-Life for the boas and pythons: Multilocus species-level phylogeny with unprecedented taxon sampling. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 71: 201–213 [published online in 2013] - get paper here
  • 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.
  • Winchell, S. 2009. Pythons Australiens. Reptilia (Münster) 14 (79): 16-27 - get paper here
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