oxyuranus scutellatus

Oxyuranus temporalis

Oxyuranus temporalis or Central Ranges Taipan is a species of taipan, large, fast, highly venomous Australasian snakes, that was described in 2007 by Australian researchers Paul Doughty, Brad Maryan, Stephen Donnellan and Mark Hutchinson. It was named one of the top five new species of 2007 by the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) at Arizona State University.


Dr Mark Hutchinson, reptile and amphibian curator at the South Australian Museum, caught the immature female taipan while it was crossing a dirt track on a sunny afternoon.

The reptile was about one metre long but, because taipan species are among the most venomous snakes in the world, Hutchinson did not inspect the creature on site. He bagged the snake and sent it, along with others captured from the trip, to the Western Australian Museum in Perth for closer inspection.

It is the first new taipan species to be discovered in 125 years. It was not until two weeks later that the new species was studied.

At first, it was tentatively identified as a western brown snake because of the similar size and colouring. However, several weeks later, WA Museum reptile collection manager Brad Maryan noticed the now preserved snake had a large, pale head similar to the coastal taipan.

The holotype, nicknamed Scully after the X-Files TV character, is an immature snake about a metre long, which means that scientists do not know the true adult size of the species, though some taipans can reach lengths of about three meters.

New Species

Oxyuranus temporalis differs from its two congeneric species Oxyuranus scutellatus and Oxyuranus microlepidotus in lacking a temporolabial scale and having six rather than seven infralabial scales. Phylogenetic analysis of mtDNA sequences showed it to be the sister species of the two previously known taipans.

The two described species of Oxyuranus are among the most venomous snakes in the world - Oxyuranus microlepidotus ranked the most and Oxyuranus scutellatus, the third most venomous after Pseudonaja textilis.

The Central Ranges Taipan or Oxyuranus temporalis is likely to be extremely venomous given its close relationship to the other two species. The new species is known from the single specimen, so very little is known of its natural history, and nothing of its venom.


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