A multivariate morphometric analysis and systematic review of Pseudonaja (Serpentes, Elapidae, Hydrophiinae)



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    1. School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
    2. South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
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*E-mail: adam.skinner@adelaide.edu.au


Pseudonaja is a clade of seven nominal species of elapid snakes distributed throughout Australia and in southern New Guinea. The species-level systematics of this group is generally considered to be problematic. A recent phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences for a geographically extensive series of Pseudonaja specimens revealed nine major clades, of which six largely coincide with nominal species (P. affinis, P. guttata, P. inframacula, P. ingrami, P. modesta and P. textilis). The three remaining clades are composed of specimens currently referred to P. nuchalis. This paper presents a multivariate analysis of 30 morphometric variables recorded for 220 specimens, representing the P. affinis, P. inframacula, P. textilis and three P. nuchalis clades (P. guttata, P. ingrami and P. modesta are well-demarcated species and, accordingly, were not considered). The morphometric data readily separate these putative lineages, affording compelling evidence that they constitute evolutionary species. The names aspidorhyncha and mengdeni are resurrected for two of the three species presently recognized as P. nuchalis. These species, P. affinis, P. inframacula, P. nuchalis and P. textilis are redescribed. © 2009 The Linnean Society of London, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2009, 155, 171–197.