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Stegonotus australis (GÜNTHER, 1872)

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Higher TaxaColubridae, Colubrinae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Australian groundsnake 
SynonymZamenophis australis GÜNTHER 1872: 21
Lycodon darnleyensis MACLEAY 1877: 38
Herbertophis plumbeus MACLEAY 1884: 434
Stegonotus plumbeus — BOULENGER 1893: 368
Stegonotus australis — KAISER et al. 2018: 27 
DistributionAustralia (Queensland)

Type locality: “Cape York” [Queensland, Australia].  
TypesHolotype. BMNH 1946.1.14.93, formerly BMNH, an adult male. Collected by Edmund Thomas Higgins in the 1860s.
Holotype: AMS R31894, from Darnley Is., Torres Strait, Qld. Collected during the Chevert Expedition between 31 July and 12 August 1975. [Lycodon darnleyensis].
Holotype: AMS R31895, from Ripple Creek, Herbert River, Qld. Collected by John Archibald Boyd in 1884. [Herbertophis plumbeus]. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: (1) the length of the internasal suture is half of internasal width (the rostral invades the internasal area and nearly separates the internasals, with the length of the internasal suture only one tenth of internasal width); (2) the suture formed by the prefrontals and the frontal lies posterior to or is level with the anterior edge of the eyes (anterior to eyes); (3) the posterior edge of the prefrontals is bent forward laterally, forming an angle of 100° (hardly bent, 165°); (4) the line drawn through the two posterolateral vertices of the frontal lies well posterior to the eyes (intersects the eyes); (5) the chin area is separated from true ventral scales (gastrosteges) by three scales in the ventral midline (two scales); (6) nine supralabials (eight); and (7) ten infralabials (nine).

Comparison: For a comprehensive comparison of species, especially to the new species Stegonotus ayamaru, see that entry and Kaiser et al. 2019.

See also description in Kaiser et al. 2021: 498. 
CommentSynonymy after Kaiser et al. 2018. Boulenger (1893) synonymized Lycodon darnleyensis with S. cucullatus, but indicated some doubt regarding his decision by including a question mark before the species name. Listed as a synonym of S. cucullatus by Wallach et al. 2014.

Distribution: S. cucullatus reported from Australia are actually S. australis fide Kaiser et al. 2018.

Behavior: nocturnal

Type species: Zamenophis australis is the type species of the genus Zamenophis Günther, 1872: 21. 
EtymologyThe species name could either reference the country of its discovery (Australia) or its geographic position as the southernmost species of Stegonotus (australis = Latin, southern). 
  • Günther,A. 1872. Seventh account of new species of snakes in the collection of the British Museum. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (4) 9: 13-37 - get paper here
  • Kaiser, Christine M.; Hinrich Kaiser & Mark O'Shea 2018. The taxonomic history of Indo-Papuan groundsnakes, genus Stegonotus Duméril et al., 1854 (Colubridae), with some taxonomic revisions and the designation of a neotype for S. parvus (Meyer, 1874). Zootaxa 4512 (1): 001–073 - get paper here
  • KAISER, CHRISTINE M.; MARK O’SHEA, HINRICH KAISER 2019. A new species of Indo-Papuan groundsnake, genus Stegonotus Duméril et al., 1854 (Serpentes, Colubridae), from the Bird’s Head Peninsula of West Papua, Indonesia, with comments on differentiating morphological characters. Zootaxa 4590 (2): 201-230 - get paper here
  • KAISER, H., KAISER, C. M., MECKE, S., & O’SHEA, M. A. R. K. 2021. A new species of Stegonotus (Serpentes: Colubridae) from the remnant coastal forests of southern Timor-Leste. Zootaxa, 5027(4): 489-514 - get paper here
  • Macleay, W. 1877. The ophidians of the Chevert Expedition. Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 2: 33-41 (given as 1878 on title page but published in 1877) - get paper here
  • Macleay, W. 1884. Notes on some reptiles from the Herbert River, Queensland. Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 8: 432-436 - 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
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