• A 140-year-old specimen from the southern Trans-Fly region of Papua New Guinea proves that the Eastern Brownsnake, Pseudonaja textilis, was not a wartime or post-war introduction (Serpentes, Elapidae, Hydrophiinae)

      O'Shea, Mark; Doria, Giuliano; Petri, Massimo; Kaiser, Hinrich (Museo Civico di Storia Naturelle, Genova, 2016-10-20)
      Abstract: The medically important Australian elapid Pseudonaja textilis was first documented for the island of New Guinea in the 1950s, when specimens from the northern coast of the Papuan Peninsula were collected and identified. It was initially believed that these snakes were from an invasive population that established post-World War II, a concept generally accepted over following decades. More recently molecular evidence and additional specimens, from West New Guinea and the southern coast of the Papuan Peninsula, have suggested that the New Guinea populations are indigenous. However, no pre-World War II specimens have been found to dismiss the human-mediated introduction argument. We here present the earliest known Papuan voucher specimen of P. textilis, a juvenile from collections housed in Genoa made by Luigi Maria D’Albertis in 1876 that pre-dates all other vouchers and the New Guinea Campaign (1942-1945) of World War II by 77 and 66 years, respectively. We also discuss the origins of P. textilis in New Guinea, the history of its discovery, and the Pleistocene routes of its invasion from Australia.