Thursday, October 6, 2011

Varanus Prasinus Species Waigeo Papua Indonesian

On the basis of seven specimen I describe a new monitor taxon from the Indonesian isle of Waigeo (West Irian). This taxon tends to the melanistic forms of the Varanus prasinus or V. Prasinus group and shows golden yellow spots on black ground. The prehensile circular tail as well as the outer genital structures prove it to be a member of the subgenus Euprepiosaurus and the V. prasinus group. It can be differentiated from the other melanistic taxa by the lowest number of scales around midbody and the lowest number of ventrals and dorsals. The phylogenetic relationship to the other taxa of the group has to be reserved for a taxonomic review on molecular basis. With regard to morphological results the new species is closely related to V. kordensis and V. beccarii.

Varanus Prasinus
Most recently, a blue-coloured tree monitor from Batanta Island, West Irian (Indonesia) has been discovered and described as a new species: Varanus macraei BÖHME & JACOBS, 2001. In this paper, the authors referred already to another insular form from the neighbouring island of Waigeo which, according to photographs available in the internet, was easily distinguishable by its strikingly different colour pattern und was termed there as “golden speckled tree monitor” (see BÖHME & JACOBS 2001: 10). In the meantime, some live specimens could be obtained, and it turned out that my first view which was based on photographs only and which had led me first to regard the Waigeo population just as a colour variant of Varanus macraei, was not at all tenable. Rather, its colour pattern proved to differ not only in the colouration of the light body markings, but also in their arrangement, apart from a general chevron-like pattern which is more or less expressed present in all taxa of the Varanus prasinus group.

Varanus Prasinus
Varanus Prasinus
This includes currently seven taxa (prasinus, beccarii, bogerti, keithhornei, kordensis, macraei and telenesetes) whereas MERTENS (1942) recognised only four: the nominal subspecies prasinus, kordensis, beccarii, and bogerti. Despite the taxonomic review of the group by SPRACKLAND (1991), the taxonomic status of some of these taxa and their interrelationships are still not sufficiently analysed. In particular, molecular analyses are still lacking. In any case, closer examination and comparisons with the described forms led me to believe that a new, undescribed taxon, the eighth in the group, is involved, which I am going to describe below.

Varanus Prasinus
In November 2002 and January 2003 I was able to obtain six specimens of the Waigeo “golden speckled tree monitor” from private sources and from the pet trade. One of them died soon, serving now as the holotype and being deposited in the Zoologisches Forschungsinstitut und Museum Koenig, Bonn, Germany. The five remaining specimens – described below as paratypes – are still in my possession. They will be deposited after their natural death in the same institution.


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