Oxyuranus temporalis

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Oxyuranus temporalis
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Oxyuranus
Species: O. temporalis
Binomial name
Oxyuranus temporalis
Doughty, Maryan, Donnellan & Hutchinson, 2007

Oxyuranus temporalis, or the Central Ranges taipan, is a species of taipan, large, fast, highly venomous Australasian snakes, that was described in 2007 by Australian researchers Paul Doughty, Brad Maryan, Stephen Donnellan and Mark Hutchinson.[1] It was named one of the top five new species of 2007 by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University.[2]

Discovery[edit]

Dr. Mark Hutchinson, reptile and amphibian curator at the South Australian Museum, caught the immature female taipan while it was crossing a dirt track on a sunny afternoon. The reptile was about one metre (about 40 inches) in total length (body + tail), but because taipan species are among the most venomous snakes in the world, Hutchinson did not inspect the creature on site. He bagged the snake and sent it, along with others captured from the trip, to the Western Australian Museum in Perth for closer inspection.[3]

It was not until two weeks later that the new species was studied. At first, it was tentatively identified as a western brown snake because of the similar size and colouring. However, several weeks later, Western Australia Museum reptile collection manager Brad Maryan noticed the now preserved snake had a large, pale head similar to the coastal taipan.[4]

The holotype, nicknamed "Scully" after the X-Files TV character, is an immature snake about a metre long, which means that scientists do not know the true adult size of the species, though some taipans can reach a total length of about three meters (about 10 feet).[4]

This is the first new taipan species to be discovered in 125 years.[5]

New Species[edit]

O. temporalis differs from its two congeneric species Oxyuranus scutellatus and Oxyuranus microlepidotus in lacking a temporolabial scale and having six rather than seven infralabial scales. Phylogenetic analysis of mtDNA sequences showed it to be the sister species of the two previously known taipans.[6]

The two other described species of Oxyuranus are among the most venomous land snakes in the world - Oxyuranus microlepidotus ranked the most venomous land snake and Oxyuranus scutellatus the third most venomous after Pseudonaja textilis.[4] The new species, O. temporalis, is likely to be extremely venomous given its close relationship to the other two species.[4] As the new species is known from the single specimen, very little is known of its natural history, and nothing of its venom.[6]

2010 Rediscovery[edit]

In May 2010, a second specimen of Oxyuranus temporalis was found in the Great Victoria Desert of Western Australia. The adult female taipan measuring 1.3 metres (4.3 ft) in total length was captured by the Spinifex people from the Tjuntjuntjara Aboriginal community during a biological study at Ilkurlka, 165 kilometres west of the South Australian border, 425 kilometres south of the location of the initial discovery.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Doughty et al. (2007). "A new species of taipan (Elapidae: Oxyuranus) from central Australia". www.mapress.com/zootaxa. Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  2. ^ Top 10 new species of 2008: Oxyuranus temporalis. International Institute for Species Exploration. Arizona State University.
  3. ^ Carday,Todd (2007-03-09). "New species of taipan found". Science and Nature. The Australian. Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  4. ^ a b c d Amalfi, Carmelo (2007-03-12). "REPTILE experts from the WA Museum have discovered a female taipan new to science living in the remote central ranges of outback WA.". New species of taipan found in central WA. Science Network Western Australia. Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  5. ^ Williams,Brian (2007-03-10). "Taipan species discovered". Courier Mail. Queensland Newspapers. Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  6. ^ a b "Oxyuranus temporalis - Central Ranges taipan". Elapidae - 2007 Publications. Wolfgang Wüster, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor. 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  7. ^ "Rare, and deadly, snake found in WA desert". WA News. WA Today. 2010-07-16. Retrieved 2010-07-16. 

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