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Pseudonaja textilis is a widespread and common snake in eastern parts of Australia, but its distribution in New Guinea is poorly understood, and the origin of the New Guinea populations and its timing have been the subject of much speculation. Phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences from three New Guinea populations of P. textilis indicates that New Guinea was colonised from two independent eastern and western migration routes most likely in the Pleistocene. One dispersal event from northern Queensland led to the populations in eastern New Guinea (Milne Bay, Oro and Central Provinces, Papua New Guinea), whereas another, from Arnhem Land to central southern New Guinea, led to the populations from the Merauke area, Indonesian Papua. The results are consistent with the effects of Pleistocene sea level changes on the physical geography of Australasia, and are thus suggestive of a natural rather than anthropogenic origin of the New Guinea populations. The taxonomic status of the New Guinean populations is discussed. Copyright © 2008 - Magnolia Press.

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