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Ablepharus sikimmensis (BLYTH, 1854)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Eugongylinae (Eugongylini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Sikkim Ground Skink, Bronzy-brown Skink
Chinese: 锡金滑蜥 
SynonymMocoa sikimmensis BLYTH 1854: 652
Tiliqua schlegelii GÜNTHER 1860: 153
Eumeces schlegelii — GÜNTHER 1864
Mocoa sacra STOLICZKA 1871: 195
Eumeces sikimensis — ANDERSON 1871: 158
Mocoa sikkimmensis — STOLICZKA 1872
Lygosoma sikkimense — BOULENGER 1887
Lygosoma sikkimense — ANNANDALE 1907: 154
Lygosoma sikkimense — HORA 1927: 4
Leiolopisma sikkimense — SMITH 1935: 301
Scincella sikimense — MITTLEMAN 1952
Scincella sikimmensis — GREER 1974
Scincella sikkimensis — SURA 1989
Scincella sikimmensis — ZUG & MITCHELL 1995
Scincella sikimmensis — DAS 1996: 48
Asymblepharus sikkimensis — GRUBER in SCHLEICH & KÄSTLE 2002
Himalblepharus [sic] sikimmensis — SINDACO & JEREMČENKO 2008
Asymblepharus sikkimensis — VENUGOPAL 2010
Scincella sikimmense — MURTHY 2010
Asymblepharus sikkimensis — KÄSTLE et al. 2013: 258 (in error)
Scincella sikimmensis — PYRON et al. 2013 (by implication)
Asymblepharus sikimmensis — CHE et al. 2020
Asymblepharus sikimmensis — CHAPPLE et al. 2021
Ablepharus sikimmensis — MIRZA et al. 2022 
DistributionChina (Xizang = Tibet), Bangladesh, Bhutan,
India (Darjeeling, Sikkim, Rangpur, W Bengal, Bihar), Nepal

Type locality: “Sikim”  
TypesSyntypes: ZSI 2501–05
Holotype: BMNH 1946.8.16.79 [Tiliqua schlegelii]
Holotype: ZSI 2391 [Mocoa sacra Stoliczka 1871] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A rather small Scincella, maximum snout-vent length 55.7 mm, but usually much smaller (x = 39.1mm). Only 21-29 (x = 24.7) scales around midbody. Ear round and very small, without projecting lobules; tympanum deeply sunk. Ciliars not thickened (Ouboter 1986: 25).

Original Diagnosis (Tiliqua schlegelii): “Uniform black. Scales rather large, smooth, striated, not keeled, in four or five longitudinal series on the back. Four præanal shields, the two middle ones being the larger ; a series of broad shields along the lower side of the tail. Ear-opening small, deep, round, with smooth margins. Hab. Sikkim. One specimen, apparently not full-grown, has been found at an altitude of 8930 feet.” (GÜNTHER 1860: 153)

Original Description (Tiliqua schlegelii). “This species does not differ in general habit from the other Tiliquae. Its snout is of moderate extent, and not produced. The series of shields covering the upper surface of the head is as follows:-1, the rostral shield is rounded 2, the anterior frontal is single, subquadrangular, broader than long 3, a pair of posterior frontals, which are not in contact with each other; 4, the vertical shield is quadrangular, with the anterior angle obtuse and the posterior very acute, and with the two anterior sides much shorter than the two posterior ones; the shield reaches backwards to the level of the pupil. 5. There are five superciliary shields on each side of the vertical 6, five occipital shields, viz. an anterior pair, a single central one, and a posterior pair the anterior pair form a suture with the vertical, separating it from the central occipital. The latter is quadrangular, similar in form to the vertical, but much shorter, so that the anterior pair of its sides are not much longer than the posterior. The anterior pair of the occipitals form together with the central shield a perfect square. The posterior pair is obliquely situated, subelliptical in form, and larger than any of the other occipitals the inner side of those shields is in contact with an anterior and with the central occipital. The nostril is in a single shield between the first labial and the anterior frontal; there are three shields between nostril and eye, covering the loreal region. Seven upper labials, the fifth of which is the largest, and extending upwards to the eyelid. The posterior part of the orbit is formed by three small shields, behind which are some large temporals. The median lower labial is broader than long, truncated posteriorly, forming a straight transverse suture with another single broad shield situated immediately behind the median labial. There are five narrow lower labials, with an interior series of five other much larger shields the remainder of the throat is covered with scales like the belly. The opening of the ear is small, round, and deep.
The scales are finely striated, without keels, and rather large on the back, whilst those on the belly are of moderate size, and those on the sides rather small. I count in the middle of the trunk five longitudinal series on the back, seven on each side, and six on the belly SO that that part of the body is surrounded by twenty-five series. There are four pranal shields, the middle pair being considerably the largest. The greater portion of the tail is broken off; a band of broad shields begins to cover its lower side at a short distance from its origin the tail is surrounded by eight series of scales, which exhibit no keel whatever. The tail itself is rounded, not compressed, and tapering.
The extremities are covered with scales similar to those of the body; the fore extremity reaches to the anterior margin of the eye, if laid forwards; the third and fourth fingers are the longest, and nearly equal then follow the second, the fifth and the first. The length of the hinder extremity is rather more than one-half that of the trunk; the fourth toe is the longest; the third and fifth are equal in length, and the first is shorter than the second. All the fingers and toes are slightly compressed and well armed with claws. The upper parts are uniform black, the lower ones blackish. Palatine teeth none.” (GÜNTHER 1860: 153) 
Comment“Several authors (Jerdon, 1870; Anderson, 1871; Blanford, 1878) have questioned the separation of "sikkimense" and "himalayanum", but only few (Gruber, 1981) have questioned the separation of "himalayanum" and "ladacense". Using the old key characters (number of scales around midbody and colour), this is easy to understand, since sikimmensis and l. himalayana are quite similar in coloration and there is a gradual increase in scale numbers between Sikkim and NW India. [...] Actually the three Himalayan taxa form a cline, in which the far ends, ladacensis and sikimmensis, are distinctly different [...] The conclusion is that himalayana more resembles ladacensis than sikimmensis and should be regarded as conspecific with ladacensis” (Ouboter 1986: 27-29).

Distribution: (apparently) erroneously reported from India (Gujarat). 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality. Note that the original spelling is “sikimmensis”. 
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