Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Redescription of the western desert taipan, Oxyuranus temporalis (Serpentes : Elapidae), with notes on its distribution, diet and genetic variation

Karl E. C. Brennan A E , Terry Morley B , Mark Hutchinson C D and Steve Donnellan C D

A Western Australian Department of Environment & Conservation, PO Box 10173, Kalgoorlie, WA 6430, Australia.

B Adelaide Zoo, Frome Road, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

C South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia.

D Australian Centre for Evolutionary Biology and Biodiversity, University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.

E Corresponding author. Email: karl.brennan@dec.wa.gov.au

Australian Journal of Zoology 59(4) 227-235 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/ZO11062
Submitted: 22 August 2011  Accepted: 24 January 2012   Published: 6 March 2012

Abstract

Of the three species of taipan, Oxyuranus temporalis is the least known, being described only recently from a single juvenile specimen. We redescribe the species based on additional adult specimens from the Great Victoria Desert. Molecular genetic variation between the three localities from which the species is known was low, suggesting a single widespread population or recent radiation. Limited analysis of faecal material and gut contents suggested solely mammalian prey. The additional specimens suggest the possibility of a considerable distribution across sandy deserts of the central and western interior of Australia. Further studies and fieldwork are required to more accurately determine its geographic range, quantify the toxicity of the venom and assess the suitability of available antivenoms.


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