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Varanus douarrha (LESSON, 1830)

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Higher TaxaVaranidae, Platynota, Varanoidea, Anguimorpha, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: New Ireland Monitor
G: Neu-Irland-Waran 
SynonymMonitor douarrha LESSON 1830: 53
Varanus douarrha — WEIJOLA et al. 2017

Varanus indicus — BOULENGER 1885: 316
Varanus indicus douarrha — MERTENS 1926: 275
Varanus indicus — MERTENS 1942: 263 
DistributionPapua New Guinea (New Ireland)

Type locality: Praslin Harbour, New Ireland (as New Mecklenberg), Papua New Guinea  
TypesNeotype: UAZM (given as ZMUT, Turku, Finland) Sa185, collected by Valter Weijola on 27 September 2012, ~1 km south of Kumium village on the south-west coast of New Ireland (-4.187°S, 152.690°E) 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: In addition to molecular genetic characters, V. douarrha can be distinguished from other members of the V. indicus group by its unique combination of the following colour-pattern and scalation characters: (1) dorsum black, with more-or-less distinct transverse rows of yellow spots and ocelli; (2) gular region cream to yellow-orange and generally marbled with grey-black markings; (3) tongue pink with grey pigmentation on the tines and sometimes on the distal part of the trunk, in rare cases extending to midlength; (4) midbody (S) scale rows 129–153, mean 140.9; and (5) dorsal (XY) scale rows 120–147, mean 136 (Weijola et al. 2017). 
CommentSynonymy: Without providing a justification, the name M. douarrha was regarded as a junior synonym of V. indicus by Boulenger (1885).

Distribution: V. douarrha is geographically restricted to the islands of New Ireland province except the St Matthias group (Weijola et al. 2017). 
EtymologyAccording to Lesson, the specific name douarrha was the local word for this species in Port Praslin. During fieldwork on New Ireland in 2012 VW interviewed a native speaker of the Siar-Lak language, which is what is spoken at Port Praslin. According to this local informant, the Siar-Lak word for ‘monitor’ is ‘kailam’. The word for the emerald tree skink, Lamprolepis smaragdina, is ‘dawar’, and it is possible that the words for these different species were confused by Lesson or that the application of local names has changed since his visit. Given current orthography for Siar-Lak (see, it is clear that Lesson’s name was intended as a translitteration into French of the Siar-Lak name as he heard it. Words in Siar-Lak have the accent placed on the final syllable; hence, the name should be pronounced ‘dwah-rah’ (Weijola et al. 2017). 
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1885. Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Vol. 2, Second edition. London, xiii+497 pp. - get paper here
  • Lesson, R.P. 1830. Description de quelques reptiles nouveaux ou peu connus. In: M.L.I. Duperrey, Voyage Autour du Monde Execute par Ordre du Roi, sur la Corvette de La Majeste, La Coquille, Pendant les Annees 1822, 1823, 1824 et 1825. 2. Zoologie Tome 2, Partie 1. Arthur Bertrand, Paris: 1-65 [published 1829 fide Ivan Ineich] - get paper here
  • Mertens, R. 1926. Über die Rassen einiger indo-australischer Reptilien. Senckenbergiana biologica 8: 272-279
  • Mertens, R. 1942. Die Familie der Warane (Varanidae), 3. Teil: Taxonomie. Abh. Senckenb. naturf. Ges., 466: 235-391
  • Weijola, Valter; Fred Kraus, Varpu Vahtera, Christer Lindqvist and Stephen C. Donnellan 2017. Reinstatement of Varanus douarrha Lesson, 1830 as a valid species with comments on the zoogeography of monitor lizards (Squamata : Varanidae) in the Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea. Australian Journal of Zoology, published online April 26, 2017; doi: 10.1071/ZO16038 - get paper here
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