New snake species named after renowned professor Mark O'Shea

A new species of snake from Indonesia has been named after renowned herpetologist Professor Mark O’Shea in honour of his work with the reptiles.

The Cylindrophis osheai, pronounced oh-shay-eye, will also be referred to colloquially as O’Shea’s pipesnake and was found in Boano Island, near Seram in Indonesia. It is the first time a species has been named after Mark O’Shea, who recently became Professor of Herpetology at the University of Wolverhampton.

He said it was a “considerable honour” and he was delighted to receive the prestigious recognition.

The Cylindrophis osheai pipesnake has a broad wavy stripe along its body and unique colour pattern.

There are now 14 species of Asian pipesnakes, found from Sri Lanka and Myanmar to Indonesia and Timor. They are secretive, burrowing, nonvenomous snakes that feed on cylindrical prey such as small snakes, earthworms and eels, and they are probably very similar in appearance and natural history to the first ever snakes that evolved over 160 million years ago.

The etymology on the recently published paper about the species states: “We describe the new species to honour our colleague and friend Mark O’Shea for his many contributions to snake biology and taxonomy. He has contributed much to improving an understanding of reptiles and particularly enhancing the reputation of snakes among a broader audience via his media work and his popular lectures.”

It also states that Professor O’Shea has inspired many young herpetologists to pursue studies of amphibians and reptiles and that he continues to do so in his role as Professor of Herpetology at the University of Wolverhampton.

Professor O’Shea said: “I have described and named several snakes and lizards myself but this is the first time a species has been named after me.

“It is a considerable honour, as many recipients of patronyms like this have been honoured post-mortem. However, Sir David Attenborough has also been so honoured (several times) in life. I am thrilled and humbled.”

Professor O’Shea has authored six books on herpetology and a plethora of scientific articles, dealing especially with the herpetofauna of Southeast Asia and New Guinea. He is also Consultant Curator of Reptiles at West Midland Safari Park.

The citation of the paper is: Kieckbusch, Mader, Kaiser & Mecke 2018 A new species of Cylindrophis Wagler, 1828 (Reptilia: Squamata: Cylindrophiidae) from Boano Island, northern Maluku Province, Indonesia. Zootaxa 4486(3):236-250.

A copy can be downloaded from here.


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