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Media Release - Australian Zoologist exterminates snake from New Guinea.

December 30th 2000

The King Brown Snake long recognised as a part of the New Guinea fauna has been formally exterminated by Australian zoologist Raymond Hoser.
However Hoser is far from being ashamed at being the person to have wiped it out.
In fact he merely wrote off his act as inevitable and as 'something that had to happen'.
No, Hoser didn't go into the wilds of Irian Jaya and kill them off with his bare hands. And no, the poisonous Cane Toads (Bufo marinus) have yet to get to the remote area where these snakes lived.
Actually Hoser wiped out these snakes with the mere press of his computer keyboard.
You see the snake that everyone in New Guinea was calling a King Brown Snake was a fraud, an imposter.
Now formally named as Pailsus rossignolii, the species is now known as a "Pailsus". This genus of snakes was first described by Hoser in 1998 and then named as the "False King Brown Snake".
First found in Mount Isa, Queensland, these snakes had been confused with their namesake for years.
They look strikingly similar to immature King Browns, but on closer inspection are substantially different.
In 1998, Hoser predicted that the genus was probably widespread and had been undetected for years.
It seems he was right. You see they've since turned up on Groote Eylandt in the NT and in Western Australia.
However based on a distinctive suite of characteristics as outlined in the current December issue of Litteratura Serpentium, the journal of the European Snake Society, the New Guinea form is clearly a new species.
Following a plea by Australian venom researcher Straun Sutherland not to call these snakes "False King Brown Snakes" because they are not closely related to the brown snakes (Pseudechis), the snakes are now generally known as "Pailsus" Pailsus rossignolii is named after Frederico Rossignoli, a professional snake handler from the Melbourne suburb of Ringwood in his 50's who does educational lectures for school kids in Australia and elsewhere.
Unlike Australian King Brown Snakes that grow to between 2 and 3 metres, Pailsus snakes only get to about a metre in length. Both kinds of snakes are brown in colour (on top) and lay eggs.
They can always be easily separated by their scalation characteristics, which in Australia is important as both kinds of snake can occur in the same localities.
However a survey of museums and collections in Asia, Europe and North America confirmed that no King Brown Snakes are known from New Guinea and that all that had been labelled as such, we in fact Pailsus.
In New Guinea Pailsus are under potential threat from the introduced and invasive Cane Toads that have decimated other reptile and frog species.
Another New Guinea endemic, the Papuan Black Snake has seriously declined in the wake of its habitat being invaded by the toads.
To guard against possible extermination in the wild, Hoser has called on hobbyists and zoos in the Northern Hemisphere to maintain viable and self-sustaining numbers of both species in captivity. This is possible as a number have already been legally sold to people in Europe and elsewhere.
Besides a single breeding record of about a dozen eggs, little is yet known of these snakes.
In a separate paper published last month in the UK journal Ophidia Review, Hoser formally named and identified a number of new pythons in northern Australia and New Guinea in the widest taxonomic review of the group for some years. Most of these snakes were known to science already, but up to last month didn't carry valid scientific names. With some of these reptiles in decline, it has become more important to ensure that specimens are correctly identified.
Snakes formally named for the first time included a species of Carpet Snake (from Irian Jaya), The Southern form of White-lipped Python, Black-headed Python (from WA) and south-west Woma (from WA), the latter of which is regarded as endangered.
For further information phone:
(within Australia) 0412 777 211
To view the exact text of the scientific paper, go to:
http://www.smuggled.com/Pailsu10.htm
Or for the pythons paper go to:
http://www.smuggled.com/pytrev1.htm

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