Saturday, October 8, 2022

[Herpetology • 2022] Toxicocalamus longhagen • A New Species of New Guinea Worm-Eating Snake Genus Toxicocalamus Boulenger, 1896 (Serpentes: Elapidae) from Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea

Toxicocalamus longhagen
 Roberts, Iova & C. Austin, 2022

We describe a new species of New Guinea Worm-Eating Snake (Elapidae: Toxicocalamus) from a specimen in the reptile collection of the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery. Toxicocalamus longhagen sp. nov. can be easily distinguished from other species of this genus by the presence of paired subcaudals, a preocular scale unfused from the prefrontal scale, a prefrontal distinct from the internasal scale that contacts the supralabials, a single large posterior temporal and two postocular scales. The new taxon is currently known only from one specimen, which was collected from Mt. Hagen Town in Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea in 1967. The new species was originally identified as T. loriae, but the unique head scalation and postfrontal bone morphology revealed through micro-computed tomography scanning easily distinguish the new species from T. loriae sensu stricto. This is the first species of this genus described from Western Highlands Province.

Key Words: Australasia, fossorial, Melanesia, micro-computed tomography, morphology

Photographs of A. Dorsal B. Ventral views of the holotype of Toxicocalamus longhagen (PNGM 22160).
 Metallic rectangles in image B are specimen probes used to pin specimen down for ventral scale visualization.
Scale bar indicates 5 cm.

Photograph, line illustrations, and 3D µCT renderings of the right (A–C) and dorsal (E–F) views of the holotype of Toxicocalamus longhagen (PNGM 22160).
 Scale bars: 5 mm.

Toxicocalamus longhagen sp. nov.
A medium-sized species with moderate habitus (566.0 total length, 12.8 maximum lateral width) with 15-15-15 dorsal scale rows, 200 ventral scales, 43 paired subcaudals, preocular present and not fused to prefrontal, preocular not in contact with internasal or nasal; prefrontal separating preocular from internasal and nasal by contacting second supralabial; frontal not fused with supraoculars; internasals not fused; four circumoculars – one supraocular, one preocular, two postoculars; nasals divided; one anterior temporal not fused with supralabials, one posterior temporal; six supralabials, the second in contact with prefrontal, preventing contact between nasal and preocular; cloacal plate divided; ventrals yellowish with light to dark brown.

Etymology: The specific epithet, longhagen, is a combination of “long” – a Tok Pisin word meaning ‘from’ and “hagen” that refers to the type locality of Mt. Hagen Town (Fig. 1). Tok Pisin is a uniting and official language of Papua New Guinea, the most linguistically complex region on the planet with more than 800 unique languages (Foley 2010).

 Jackson R. Roberts, Bulisa Iova and Christopher C. Austin. 2022. A New Species of New Guinea Worm-Eating Snake (Serpentes, Elapidae, Toxicocalamus Boulenger, 1896) from Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. Zoosystematics and Evolution. 98(2): 399-409. DOI: 10.3897/zse.98.90520

Abstract in Tok Pisin: Mipela tokaut lon nupela kain sinek I save kaikai ol liklik sinek insait lon graun lon New Guinea (Elapidae: Toxicocalamus) blo wanpela sinek I bin stap lon ol sinek koleksen insait lon Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery. Toxicocalamus longhagen sp. nov. em u ken lukim isi tru lon ol arapela wankain poro blo em lo ol wantok blo em we u ken lukim tupela aninit lo tel, na polhet blo eye girere or sikin stap em yet lon polhet na nus girere wantem lo antap wisket, na tupela girere stap baksait lo ai blo em. Dispela nupla kain sinek em nau yet ol kisim save lon wanpla sinek ol kisim lon Mt. Hagen Taun lon Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea lon 1967. Dispela nupela kain sinek em pastem tru ol givim nem olsem T. loriae tasol em gat wanpela spesol kain girere lo polhet blo em I tok aut lon liklik masin/computa I galasim isi namel lon nupela sinek na T. loriae sensu stricto. Dispela em nambawan kain sinek ol kisim save lo wantok blo em na tok klia olsem em kam lo Western Highlands Province.