TAXONOM1C REVISION OF THE ELAPID SNAKE GENUS DRYSDALIA
By A. J. Coventry* and P. A. RawunsonI
* National Museum of Victoria, Russell Street, Melbourne, 3000.
t Zoology Department, La Trobe University, Bundoora, 3083.
The southern Australian snake genus Drysdalia (Worrell 1961) is reviewed and a key provided for the
four species recognised. Drysdalia rhodogaster (Jan 1963) is elevated from synonymy and fully described
for the first time. The types of each species are discussed in detail and lectotypes nominated where
Boulenger (1896) allocated many of the small
Australian elapid snakes to the genus Denisonia
Krefft, 1869. Australian herpetologists followed
Boulenger's scheme until the genus Denisonia
became an unwieldy, polyphyletic taxon. For
example, Kinghorn (1956) listed 19 (27-5%) of
the 69 Australian elapid species and subspecies
under this genus. In 1961 Worrell revised the
genus Denisonia and re-allocated the previously
included species to ten genera, eight of which he
described for the first time. Worrell's revision
proved controversial and some of his alloca-
tions were not accepted. Cogger (1979) presents
a consensus view of the accepted taxa.
The genus Drysdalia was erected by Worrell
in 1961 to receive three species (Elaps coronatus
Schlegel, 1837; Hoplocephalus coronoides
Gunther, 1858; and Hoplocephalus mastersii
Krefft, 1866) which Boulenger (1896) had plac-
ed in Denisonia. Drysdalia has been widely ac-
cepted as a valid genus but it has become ap-
parent that the included species are in need of
revision. The present revision has involved ex-
amination of all specimens held in the National
Museum of Victoria, the Western Australian
Museum, the South Australian Museum and
the Australian Museum. In addition, all rele-
vant type specimens for species now included in
Drysdalia have been examined. As a result of
this revision four species are now recognized,
each occupying a discrete geographical range:
Drysdalia coronoides (Gunther, 1858)
South-eastern Australia, Bass Strait Islands
Drysdalia coronata (Schlegel, 1837)
South-western Australia and associated is-
Memoirs of the National Museum Victoria, 65
No. 41, October 1980.
Drysdalia mastersii (Krefft, 1866)
Southern South Australia and adjacent areas
in Western Australia and Victoria.
Drysdalia rhodogaster (Jan, 1863)
South-eastern New South Wales.
As there is an extensive literature on
venomous snakes, mainly for the popular
market, only publications considered to be of
primary taxonomic importance have been in-
cluded in the synonymies.
Abbreviations used for institutions in this
Australian Museum AM
British Museum (Natural History) BM(NH)
Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle MNHP
National Museum of Victoria NMV
South Australian Museum SAM
Western Australian Museum WAM
Key to species of Drysdalia
1 . Distinct white stripe edged above by black
running along upper labials from below the
nostril, under the eye often to the neck 2.
Lacking distinct white stripe running
along upper labials D. rhodogaster
2. Distinct pale or dark band (sometimes
broken medially) across the nape 3.
Lacking band across the nape
3. *Band across the nape black .D. coronata
Band across the nape pale yellow-orange . . .
* Some specimens from the Archipelago of the
Recherche lack the black band across the nape. D.
coronata can usually also be distinguished from
other species of the genus by its broader frontal.
See Table 1 .