is of interest because the genus represents a basal clade of fangless homalopsid snakes that are terrestial and feed on worms. Most known species of homalopsid snakes have rearfangs, are aquatic or semi-aquatic and feed on fish and crustaceans (Murphy et al. 2011).
Literature reports of wide-ranging and often erroneous localities for Brachyorrhos
have added confusion to the actual identity of these snakes. Despite the report of Brachyorrhos
on Sumatra by Bleeker (1857a), Haas (1950) and David and Vogel (1996) found no evidence that it occurs there. Many of Bleeker’s records, including the Sumatra locality, are considered unreliable (Barbour, 1912; Haas, 1950). In defense of Bleeker’s Sumatran record, a Sumatran snake that looks remarkably like Brachyorrhos
but most likely does not belong in the genus has been located. Similarly, the genus has been reported from Borneo, and examination of one museum specimen labelled as Brachyorrhos albus
(SMNS 2749) collected in Borneo in 1897 by H. Rolle, was in fact a bleached specimen of Calamaria cf schlegelii.
was reported twice from Timor in the 19th century. A Timor specimen supposedly in the Leiden museum was probably collected by Müller and described by Günther (1858) and possibly also by Boulenger (1893). Müller (1857) reported Calamaria brachyorrhos
(= B. albus
) on Ambon, but not Timor; this specimen was not found in the Leiden museum collection. We found this specimen in the British Museum (BMNH 442222) and doubt that it originated from Timor. However a second specimen (RMNH 576), also reported from Timor, was located in the Leiden museum.This specimen, collected by E. W. A. Ludeking in 1863, has several lines of evidence suggesting it originated in Seram. Data with Ludeking’s specimen reported “Papoetikbaai” [=Paputik Bay], Timor. However, three specimens of Draco lineatus bourouniensis
were collected by Ludeking in 1863 on Seram at “Papoetik bay” (Musters, 1983), as well as one specimen of Varanus cerambonensis
(Philipp et al., 1999). The type location for the V. cerambonensis
is Seram. Old maps of Seram leave only one option for the locality “Paputik Bay”, it is now known as Elpaputih Bay in Southwest Seram.
Additionally, Kaiser et al. (2011) failed to find Brachyorrhos
in the Timor-Leste herpetofauna. In our cluster analysis and PCA, BMNH 442222 associates with the Ambon population; and RMNH 576 associates with the Seram population. There is a single specimen from the Aru Islands (MSNG 56342), received in 1873 by Beccari.
Given the work of How and Kitchener (1997) and De Lang (2011) in the Lesser Sundas, Steubing and Inger (1999) in Borneo, and Hoesel (1959) in Java all of these localities are highly improbable for Brachyorrhos
, and in the absence of voucher specimens its presence on these islands should not be assumed.
Reports of Brachyorrhos
in Western Papua are based on members of the genus Calamophis
Meyer. Therefore, Brachyorrhos
is endemic to the Moluccas based on current information and Murphy et al. (2012) suggests it is polytypic, containing at least four species. The snake Brachyorrhos jobiensis
(Meyer) belongs in Meyer's genus, Calamophis
Murphy et al. (2012) revalidated Atractocephalus raffrayi
Sauvage and Rabdion gastrotaenia
Bleeker, 1860 (now Brachyorrhos raffrayi
and B. gastrotaenius
) and described B. wallacei f
rom Halmahera. All of these species have been confused with Brachyorrhos albus