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Acontias poecilus BOURQUIN & LAMBIRIS, 1996

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Acontinae; Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesVariable Legless Skink 
SynonymAcontias poecilus BOURQUIN & LAMBIRIS 1996
Acontias poecilus — LAMB et al. 2010 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa (SE KwaZulu-Natal)

Type locality: Leisure Bay, KwaZulu-Natal Province, 31° 01' 20" S, 30° 14' 42" E, 10 m elevation.  
Reproductionviviparous 
TypesHolotype: TM 79313, Adult female, coil. P. M. Hitchins, 13.5.1994;
Paratypes: TM 55954, juvenile, Umtentweni, KwaZulu-Natal 30° 42' 30" S, 30° 28' 45" E, 60 m above sea level, coil. M. F. Mciver, 26.2.1981; TM 68087, adult female, Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-NataI 30° 43' 36" S, 30° 16' 29" E, 380 m above sea level, coil. J. Wyatt, 12.5.1968; TM 79314, adult female, Umtentweni, KwaZulu-Natal 30° 43' 18" S, 30° 28' 00" E, 20 m above sea level, coil. K Morty, 10.1.1994; TM 79315 (subadult) and TM 79316 (juvenile), both collected together with holotype. 
DiagnosisDIAGNOSIS. Robust species, total length exceed- ing 400 mm in adults. No groove, or only a partial, interrupted groove from posterior part of rostral to nostril. Five to seven chin shields bordering mental. Reduction to 14 scales around body at less than 55 % of body length from tip of snout. Body pattern striped in juveniles, mottled to nearly plain in adults. Ventrum usually markedly lighter than dorsum. 
CommentSize: One of the largest skinks known (max. SVL about 382 mm).

Morphology: Limbless. 
EtymologyThe name of the new species is derived from 'poecilos' (Greek) = variable, varie- gated, referring to the variable colour patterns, not only between adults, but also between adults and juveniles.
 
References
  • Bates, M.F.; Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M.; Burger, M., Marais, J.; Alexander, G.J. & de Villliers, M.S. (eds.) 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, 512 pp.
  • Bourquin, O. & A.J.L. Lambiris 1996. A new species of Acontias Cuvier (Sauria: Scincidae) from southeastern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Annals Transvaal Mus. 36 (17): 223-227. - get paper here
  • Greer, Allen E. 2001. Distribution of maximum snout-vent length among species of Scincid lizards. Journal of Herpetology 35 (3): 383-395 - get paper here
  • Lamb, T.; Biswas, S. & Bauer, A.M. 2010. A phylogenetic reassessment of African fossorial skinks in the subfamily Acontinae (Squamata: Scincidae): evidence for parallelism and polyphyly. Zootaxa 2657: 33–46 - get paper here
 
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