Divergent Morphology among Populations of the New Guinea Crocodile, Crocodylus novaeguineae (Schmidt, 1928): Diagnosis of an Independent Lineage and Description of a New Species

Christopher M. Murray1,2, Peter Russo3, Alexander Zorrilla4, and Caleb D. McMahan5
The freshwater crocodile inhabiting Papua New Guinea, currently recognized as Crocodylus novaeguineae, exhibits morphological, molecular, and ecological divergence between the northern and southern versants of the Central Highlands and occupies separate evolutionary trajectories. A robust body of work has long encouraged the formal description of New Guinea crocodiles from the southern versant of the highlands as a distinct lineage with a taxonomy that reflects diagnosed relationships. Here, we use geometric morphometric techniques to assess cranial shape variation between specimens from both versants and add to the diagnostic evidence supporting a more accurate taxonomy. Further, herein, we formally describe the southern variant as a distinct lineage (Hall’s New Guinea Crocodile; Crocodylus halli, new species).