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Varanus prasinus (SCHLEGEL, 1839)

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Higher TaxaVaranidae, Platynota, Varanoidea, Anguimorpha, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Emerald Monitor
G: Smaragdwaran 
SynonymMonitor viridis GRAY 1831: 26 (nomen dubium fide MERTENS 1963)
Monitor prasinus SCHLEGEL 1839: 78
Varanus prasinus — BLEEKER 1856
Monitor beccarii DORIA 1874: 331
Varanus prasinus — BOULENGER 1885: 321
Varanus kordensis — BOULENGER 1885: 322
Varanus kordensis — BOULENGER 1895: 28
Varanus prasinus — DE ROOIJ 1915: 151
Varanus kordensis — DE ROOIJ 1915: 152
Varanus prasinus prasinus — MERTENS 1942
Varanus prasinus kordensis — MERTENS 1942
Varanus prasinus — SPRACKLAND 1991
Varanus prasinus — DE LISLE 1996: 132
Varanus prasinus — COGGER 2000: 371
Varanus kordensis — BÖHME 2002
Varanus kordensis — JACOBS 2003
Varanus (Euprepiosaurus) prasinus — ZIEGLER et al. 2007
Varanus (Hapturosaurus) prasinus — BUCKLITSCH et al. 2016: 50 
DistributionAustralia (Queensland) ?, Papua New Guinea

Type locality: Fort Du Bus and Oeroe-Langoeroe Bay (as W coast of New Guinea), Irian Jaya, Indonesia.  
TypesHolotype: RMNH 4812
Syntypes: MSNG = MCG C. E. 28723, other syntypes not found fide COGGER 1983, from Wokam (as Wokan), Aru Ils., Indonesia [Monitor beccarii] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (Hapturosaurus): Hapturosaurus is a monophyletic (Ast 2001; Ziegler et al. 2007b) group of medium-sized (Collar et al. 2011), tree monitor lizards from New Guinea and northern Australia which is uniquely defined by the following combination of morphological characters: (1) A long and prehensile tail which is round in cross section together with (2) an elongated body, head, neck, limbs, and digits with strong claws in relation with a highly arboreal live style (Greene 1986; Mendyk & Horn 2011); (3) a partly colourful appearance of bright green, blue or yellow pigmentation in combination with a varying degree of black (including entirely melanistic taxa, such as beccarii and bogerti) often forming a dorsal pattern of more or less distinctive chevrons (Sprackland 1991; Jacobs 2008); (4) elongated dorsal scales separated by numerous rows of tiny granules and with a single distinctly enlarged posterior granulum; in addition, most body scales are roof-shaped and strongly keeled (this study, see Fig. 28); (5) differentiated head scales comprising enlarged supraocular scales and up to three rows of enlarged scales spanning the interorbital region (Koch et al. 2014); (6) lungs with an open intrapulmonary bronchus (Becker et al.1989); and (7) copulatory organs with bilaterally built hemipenial and hemiclitorial paryphasmata (Branch 1982; Böhme 1988; Ziegler & Böhme 1997). Furthermore, Conrad et al. (2011) listed five additional diagnostic morphological synapomorphies (next to 93 molecular synapomorphies; see Ast 2001) for the tree monitors. These are: (1) Palatine longer than wide; (2) parallel-sided (not expanded or tapered) anterior ends of the anterolateral processes of the frontal; (3) presence of a distinct, raised, posterior margin of the anterior narial fossa on the anterodorsal margin of the maxilla; (4) absence of a dorsal keel on the supraoccipital; and (5) crista interfenestralis developed posterolaterally and hides the occipital recess in lateral view (see also part two about the skull in Mertens’ [1942a] monograph). 
CommentSynonym partly after COGGER 1983 and MERTENS 1963. V. kordensis has been previously synonymzed with V. prasinus. However, JACOBS (2002) provides evidence that prasinus and kordensis are different species. At least some populations of Varanus prasinus and V. bogerti are paraphyletic (Weijola et al. 2019), and may require taxonomic revision.

Distribution: records from Queensland are not confirmed (Koch & Eidenmüller 2019).

Type species: Varanus prasinus is the type species of the subgenus Hapturosaurus Bucklitsch et al. 2016. 
EtymologyNamed after Greek “prasinos” = green. 
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  • BUCKLITSCH, YANNICK; WOLFGANG BÖHME, ANDRÉ KOCH 2016. Scale Morphology and Micro-Structure of Monitor Lizards (Squamata: Varanidae: Varanus spp.) and their Allies: Implications for Systematics, Ecology, and Conservation. . Zootaxa 4153 (1): 001–192 - get paper here
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  • DAVIS, ADAM C. 2014. Successful Repair of an Emerald Tree Monitor (Varanus prasinus Schlegel, 1839) Egg at Bristol Zoo Gardens. Biawak 8 (1): 39 - get paper here
  • de Rooij, N. de 1915. The Reptiles of the Indo-Australian Archipelago. I. Lacertilia, Chelonia, Emydosauria. Leiden (E. J. Brill), xiv + 384 pp. - get paper here
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  • Eidenmüller, Bernd; André Koch, Johannes Köhler, Rudolf Wicker 2017. New findings on the relationships among New Guinea tree monitor lizards of the Varanus prasinus (SCHLEGEL, 1839) complex (Squamata: Sauria: Varanidae). Herpetozoa 30 (1/2): 9 - 20 - get paper here
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  • Jacobs, H. J. and A. Koch 2021. On the Discovery and Scientific Description of the Emerald Tree Monitor, Varanus prasinus (Schlegel, 1839). Bibliotheca Herpetologica 15(7):61–76 - get paper here
  • Jacobs, H.J. 2002. Zur morphologischen Variabilität der nominellen Smaragdwaran-Taxa Varanus prasinus (H. SCHLEGEL 1939) und V. kordensis (A.B. MEYER 1874), mit Bemerkungen zur Erstzucht des letzteren. Herpetofauna 24 (137): 21-34 - get paper here
  • Jacobs, H.J. 2003. A further new emerald tree monitor lizard of the Varanus prasinus species group from Waigeo, West Irian (Squamata: Sauria: Varanidae). Salamandra 39 (2): 65-74 - get paper here
  • Jacobs, H.J. 2008. Zucht von Varanus reisingeri EIDENMÜLLER & WICKER, 2005 mit Vergleich der jugendkleider der V. prasinus-Gruppe und Bemerkungen zu deren Taxonomie. Sauria 30 (1): 5-12 - get paper here
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  • Koch, Andre; Ernst, Nicole; Eidenmuller, Bernd; Kraus, Fred 2014. New data on the rare Varanus bogerti Mertens, 1950 and V. telenesetes Sprackland, 1991 (Squamata: Varanidae), two endemic monitor lizard taxa from island groups off southeastern New Guinea. The Herpetological Journal 24 (2): 111-122 - get paper here
  • KOCH, ANDRÉ & BERND EIDENMÜLLER 2019. Is the New Guinea Emerald Tree Monitor Lizard (Varanus prasinus) Native to Mainland Australia? Biawak 13 (1): 32–42
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  • Schlegel, H. 1839. Abbildungen neuer oder unvollständig bekannter Amphibien, nach der Natur oder dem Leben entworfen und mit einem erläuternden Texte begleitet. Arne and Co., Düsseldorf, xiv + 141 pp. - get paper here
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