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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Infraordo: Caenophidia
Superfamilia: Elapoidea

Familia: Elapidae
Subfamilia: Hydrophiinae
Genus: Aipysurus
Species (9): A. apraefrontalis – A. duboisii – A. eydouxii – A. foliosquama – A. fuscus – A. laevis – A. mosaicus – A. pooleorum – A. tenuis

Aipysurus Lacépède, 1804: 197

Type species: Aipysurus laevis Lacépède, 1804, by monotypy.


Pelagophis Peters & Doria, 1878: 413
Type species: Pelagophis lubricus Peters & Doria, 1878, by monotypy.

Primary references

Lacépède, B.G. 1804. Mémoire sur plusieurs animaux de la Nouvelle-Hollande dont la description n’a pas encore été publiée. Annales du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle 4: 184–211. BHL Reference page.
Peters, W. & Doria, G. 1878. Catalogo dei retilli e dei batraci raccolti da O. Beccari, L. M. D'Alberts e A. A. Bruijn nella sotto-regione Austro-Malese (In Italian). Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova 13: 323–450. BHL Reference page.

Additional references

Sanders, K.L., Rasmussen, A.R., Elmberg, J., Mumpuni, Guinea, M., Blias, P., Lee, M.S.Y. & Fry, B.G. 2012. Aipysurus mosaicus, a new species of egg-eating sea snake (Elapidae: Hydrophiinae), with a redescription of Aipysurus eydouxii (Gray, 1849). Zootaxa 3431: 1–18. Preview PDFReference page.


Uetz, P. & Hallermann, J. 2022. Aipysurus . The Reptile Database. Accessed on 5 May 2019.
Aipysurus – Taxon details on Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS).

Vernacular names
English: Olive Sea Snakes

Aipysurus[n 1] is a genus of venomous snakes in the subfamily Hydrophiinae of the family Elapidae. Member species of the genus are found in warm seas from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.


The first description of the genus Aipysurus was published by Bernard Germain de Lacépède in 1804, accommodating his description of a new species found in Australian seas, Aipysurus laevis, the type species of the genus. The description was accompanied by an illustration of the new species.[1] The genus is one of a small group of the viviparous sea snakes (Hydrophiinae: Hydrophiini) with Emydocephalus, also mostly restricted to the seas between Timor, New Guinea and northern Australia.[4]

The following is a list of species.[5]

Image Species Authority Common name Geographic range
Aipysurus apraefrontalis M.A. Smith, 1926 short-nosed sea snake Western Australia
Aipysurus duboisii Bavay, 1869 Dubois' seasnake coastal areas of Australia
Aipysurus eydouxii.jpg Aipysurus eydouxii (Gray, 1849) spine-tailed sea snake, marbled seasnake, or beaded sea snake Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, the South China Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, Indonesia, Peninsular Malaysia, Vietnam and New Guinea
Aipysurus foliosquama M.A. Smith, 1926 leaf-scaled sea snake Ashmore and Cartier Islands
Aipysurus fuscus (Tschudi, 1837) dusky sea snake Timor Sea between Australia, Indonesia and East Timor
Aipysurus laevis.jpg Aipysurus laevis Lacépède, 1804 olive sea snake Great Barrier Reef
Aipysurus mosaicus Sanders et al., 2012[4] mosaic sea snake Northern Australia and New Guinea
Aipysurus tenuis Lönnberg & Andersson, 1913 Western Australia, from near Dampier to Broome, and in the Arafura Sea

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Aipysurus.

A subspecies nominated in 1974 as A. laevis pooleorum was elevated in 1983 to full species status, as A. pooleorum, without explanation by the authors. The same revision (Wells and Wellington, 1983) also resurrected the species name Aipysurus jukesii (Gray, 1846), recognised as a synonym of Lacépède's Aipysurus laevis. [4]

From the Greek aipys "high and steep" and oura "tail";[2] the term loosely meaning "high tail" was coined to denote "the laterally compressed tail that is higher than the depth of the body".[3]


Lacépède BG (1804). "Mémoire sur plusieurs animaux de la Nouvelle-Hollande dont la description n'a pas encore été publiée". Annales du Muséum d'histoire naturelle. 4: 184-211 [210, pl. 56]. (in French).
αἰπύς, οὐρά. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
"The Sea Snakes of Australia". Australian Biodiversity Record. 8 (1–124): 7. 2007. ISSN 1325-2992.
Sanders KL; et al. (2012). "Aipysurus mosaicus, a new species of egg-eating sea snake (Elapidae: Hydrophiinae), with a redescription of Aipysurus eydouxii (Gray, 1849)". Zootaxa. 3431: 1–18. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3431.1.1.

"Aipysurus ". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 20 September 2007.

Further reading

Boulenger, George Albert (1896). Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume III., Containing the Colubridæ (Opisthoglyphæ and Proteroglyphæ) ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiv + 727 pp. + Plates I-XXV. (Genus Aipysurus, p. 303).
Goin, Coleman J.; Goin, Olive B.; Zug, George R. (1978). Introduction to Herpetology, Third Edition. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company. xi + 378 pp. ISBN 0-7167-0020-4. (Aipysurus, p. 332).


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