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Research Article

Dragon's Paradise Lost: Palaeobiogeography, Evolution and Extinction of the Largest-Ever Terrestrial Lizards (Varanidae)

  • Scott A. Hocknull mail,


    Affiliation: Geosciences, Queensland Museum, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

  • Philip J. Piper,

    Affiliation: Archaeological Studies Program, University of the Philippines, Quezon City, Philippines

  • Gert D. van den Bergh,

    Affiliation: School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

  • Rokus Awe Due,

    Affiliation: Indonesian Centre for Archaeology, Jakarta, Indonesia

  • Michael J. Morwood,

    Affiliation: School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

  • Iwan Kurniawan

    Affiliation: Geological Survey of Indonesia, Bandung, Indonesia

  • Published: September 30, 2009
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007241
  • Published in PLOS ONE

Reader Comments (1)

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Taxonomy of giant varanids

Posted by JohnScanlon on 01 Oct 2009 at 00:10 GMT

This paper seems to have missed a good opportunity to resolve the nomenclatural status of _Varanus hooijeri_ (Pleistocene of Timor) and _V. warburtonensis_ (Pleistocene of Central Australia, previously synonymised with _V. priscus_). Can one or both of these names be applied to the intermediate-sized _Varanus_ 'sp.' from these areas? The available names are not even mentioned!
Also, once more the incorrect ending has been used in _Varanus 'prisca'_. It's _priscus_, guys!

No competing interests declared.

RE: Taxonomy of giant varanids

Scott_Hocknull replied to JohnScanlon on 01 Oct 2009 at 06:14 GMT

Hi John,

Thanks for your comments. Time and comparative material hindered me from doing a more indepth review. I'm currently working on the rest of the 'Megalania' material and will hopefully get this out soonish. I agree, V. warburtonensis could be a valid name for the intermediate taxon, however, it will more likely be a nomen dubium. Hence why we didn't push to erect a name for the Timor vertebrae. V. hooijeri wasn't available for me to look at.

As for priscus/prisca, I originally had priscus in the paper, however, post-review I used prisca - using the latest taxonomic work by Head et al (2009), [14] in the paper.

From Head et al 2009, P446 "We also demonstrate that Megalania is firmly nested within the clade Varanus, and refer to this taxon as V. prisca henceforth (see below for further discussion)."

P447 "The correct species name is Varanus
prisca, although several authors have adopted an
alternative, incorrect spelling (priscus: e.g. Lydekker,

It was my original consideration that by changing Megalania prisca to Varanus you must change prisca to priscus to form the correct latin arrangement. Like Trachydosaurus rugosus to Tiliqua rugosa.

More than open to opinion and suggestion or specific latin arrangements.



No competing interests declared.

RE: RE: Taxonomy of giant varanids

Jahn_Hornung replied to Scott_Hocknull on 18 Jun 2010 at 19:13 GMT

I think the correct spelling of "Megalania" prisca is unambigously regulated by ICZN Art. 31.2:

"Agreement in gender. A species-group name, if it is or ends in a Latin or latinized adjective or participle in the nominative singular, must agree in gender with the generic name with which it is at any time combined."

If transferred to Varanus, the adjective prisca has to agree in genderwith the former. Varanus is male (e.g. V. niloticus, V. exanthematicus).

Therefore, in my opinion V. priscus would be correct.



No competing interests declared.