First records of a rare snake eel, Leiuranus versicolor (Anguilliformes, Ophichthidae) from Japan

Yusuke HIBINO, Yukiya OGATA, Shunsuke ENDO, Masaaki WADA, Atsunobu MURASE, Noritaka MOCHIOKA


Leiuranus versicolor (Richardson, 1848) is recorded based on a specimen from Miyazaki Prefecture, southern Japan. It represents the first Japanese and northernmost record. Leiuranus versicolor is similar to L. semicinctus, its single congener. The former can be easily separated from the latter by its unique banded pattern, usually with a narrow whitish yellow slit (vs. slit absent). The species was also photographed from Kashiwajima, southern part of Kochi Prefecture, southern Japan.


Ophichthidae, 16S rRNA, Miyazaki Prefecture, Kochi Prefecture, Underwater photograph.

Full Text:



Allen G.R., Erdmann M.V. 2012. Reef fishes of the East Indies. Volume I. Tropical Reef Research, Perth, Australia. 424 p.

Böhlke E.B. 1982. Vertebral formulae of type specimen of eels (Pisces: Anguilliformes). Proceeding of Academy of Nature Science of Philadelphia 134: 31-49.

Francis M.P. 1993. Checklist of the coastal fishes of Lord Howe, Norfolk, and Kermadec Island, southwest Pacific Ocean. Pacific Science 47(2): 136-170.

Fraser-Brunner A. 1934. A new species of eel of the genus Ophichthus Ahl. Annals and Magazine of Natural History (Series 10) 13(76): 465-468.

Fricke, R., Eschmeyer, W.N. 2019. Guide to fish collections. Electronic version, updated 7 October 2019.

Available from: Retrieved 10/10/2019.

Hibino Y., McCosker J.E., Tashiro F. 2019. Four new deep water Ophichthus (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae) from Japan with a redescription of Ophichthus pallens (Richardson 1848). Ichthyological Research. DOI:10.1007/s10228-018-00677-3

Kimura M. 1980. A simple method for estimating evolutionary rate of base substitutions through comparative studies of nucleotide sequences. Journal of Molecular Evolution 16: 111-120.

Kumar S., Stecher G., Tamura K. 2016. MEGA7: Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis version 7.0 for Bigger Datasets. Molecular Biology and Evolution 33(7): 1870-1874.

McCosker J.E. 1975. Feeding behavior of Indo-Australian Hydrophiidae. In: W.A. Dunson (Ed.). The biology of sea snakes. University Park Press, Baltimore. pp: 217-232.

McCosker J.E. 1977. The osteology, classification, and relationships of the eel family Ophichthidae. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences (Series 4) 41(1): 1-123.

McCosker J.E. 2014. A gigantic deep water worm eel (Anguilliformes: Ophichthidae) from the Verde Island Passage, Philippine Archipelago. In: C.G.Williams, T.M. Gosliner, (Eds.). The Coral Triangle. The 2011 Hearst Philippine Biodiversity Expedition. California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco. pp: 333–340.

Murase A. 2019. Leiuranus sp. In: A. Murase, R. Miki, M. Wada, H. Senou, H. (Eds.). Coastal and Market Fishes around Kadogawa Bay, Northern Part of Miyazaki Prefecture, Southern Japan. Nobeoka Marine Science Station, University of Miyazaki, Nobeoka. pp: 60-61. (In Japanese)

Myers R.F. 1999. Micronesian reef fishes. A comprehensive guide to the coral reef fishes of Micronesia. 3rd revised edition. Coral Graphics, Guam. 330 p.

Richardson J. 1848. Ichthyology of the voyage of H.M.S. Erebus & Terror, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross, R. N., F. R. S. i–viii + 75-139, London.

Tashiro F., Tabata R., Nishizawa H., Mitamura H. 2018. A rare species of Uropterygius (Anguilliformes, Muraenidae) found in the stomach content of a Yellow-lipped Sea Krait from Japan. Check List 14(1): 163–166.

Tawa A., Kobayakawa M., Yoshimura T., Mochioka N. 2012. Identification of leptocephalus larvae of the tiger moray Scuticaria tigrina (Anguilliformes; Muraenidae) based on morphometric and genetic evidence. Ichthyological Research 59: 378-383.

Tawa A., Tahara Y., Hibino Y. 2018. New record of a snake eel Myrichthys paleracio collected from Iriomote Island, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology 65(1): 41-47. (In Japanese)


  • There are currently no refbacks.