It is interesting, why are Oxyuranus species called Taipan. The snakes are Australian but taipan looks like of Chinese origin word (it means big shot - important person).


1 Answer 1


An answer is found at the Wikipedia page for Taipan:

The common name, taipan, was coined by anthropologist Donald Thomson after the word used by the Wik-Mungkan Aboriginal people of central Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia.

This passage is citing Sutton. 1995. Wik Ngathan Dictionary as support. I cannot evaluate the truth in this statement though.

For another reference see McKnight. 1981. The Wik-mungkan concept Nganwi: a study of mystical power and sickness in an Australian tribe. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 137, which refers to Taipan as the Rainbow serpent (an Aboriginal mythical creature) of the Wik-Mungkan tribe.

Even more folklore is found in McNamee. 2000. The Serpent's Tale: Snakes in Folklore and Literature in "Taipan the snake and the blue-tongued lizard".


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