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Bellatorias obiri (WELLS & WELLINGTON, 1985)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Egerniinae (Tiliquini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Arnhem Land Gorges Skink 
SynonymHortonia obiri WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985: 30
Egernia obiri — GREER 2005 (online)
Bellatorias obiri — GARDNER et al. 2008
Egernia arnhemensis SADLIER 1990
Egernia arnhemensis — COGGER 2000: 755
Bellatorias obiri — WILSON & SWAN 2010 
Distributionarnhemensis: Australia (Alligator Rivers region, Northern Territory)

Type locality: 3 km south west of Oenpelli, Arnhem Land, NT  
TypesHolotype: NTM R1190, collected by B. Jukes, 28.vii1975; paratype: NTM R0809
Paratypes: R38384 Koongarra, [Mt] Brockman Range, NT (P–J. Calaby & A. Wolfe); R100018 SE corner of Djawamba Massif, Jabiluka project area, NT (A. Kerle, 19.xi.1980). [arnhemensis] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (Hortonia): “A genus of large rainforest inhabiting skinks, allied to Bellatorias, and easily distinguished by the following combic nation of characters: Pentadactyl limbs; body scales with low multiple keels; tail round and tapering without enlarged or expanded upper caudals; ear opening distinct with short ear lobules; head shields unfragmented, regular (with a post-narial groove); nasals separated; interparietals narrower to almost as wide as the frontal shield; parietals and frontoparietals intact; supraciliaries 8-12; subocular series continuous, all much larger than adjacent granules of lower eyelid.” (Wells & Wellington 1985)

Diagnosis (obiri): “A large Scincid lizard closely related to Hortonia jrerei of north Queensland, and distinguished by the following combination of characters: Body colour uniform brown dorsally, laterally and on the tail; venter creamish. There is a small area of very dark brown (almost black) that extends from the eye to just past the forelimb. Typical H. oakesi has this black area extending all the way along the side ofthe body; typical H. shinei is ornately marked with numerous white flecks and black striae on rich reddish brown laterally. Hortonia obiri is known only from the western escarpment of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, but possibly extends south westwards to the Katherine region. Cogger, (1983: Plates 626-7) illustrates a specimen of Hortonia obirifrom Mt. Brockman, N.T. Swanson (1979:18) provides natural history data on Hortonia obiri, and Swanson (1981: 125) figures a mature specimen of H. obiri in life colours.” (Wells & Wellington 1985) 
CommentGARDNER et al. (2008) list Bellatorias obiri as valid species although they do not appear to have included it in their sequence analysis. E. arnhemensis is a synonym of E. obiri fide GARDNER (pers. comm.).

Conservation: this is one of the most-threatened reptile species in Australia (Geyle et al. 2021).

Etymology: Wells & Wellington 1985 give an etymology for Hortonia (which was named after Dr. David Horton, an Australian biologist) but not for “obiri”. 
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • Couper, P., Covacevich, J., Amey, A. & Baker, A. 2006. The genera of skinks (Family Scincidae) of Australia and its island territories: diversity, distribution and identification. in: Merrick, J.R., Archer, M., Hickey, G.M. & Lee, M.S.Y. (eds.). Evolution and Zoogeography of Australasian Vertebrates. Australian Scientific Publishing, Sydney, pp. 367-384
  • Gardner, M. G., Hugall, A. F., Donnellan, S. C., Hutchinson, M. N., and Foster, R. 2008. Molecular systematics of social skinks: phylogeny and taxonomy of the Egernia group (Reptilia: Scincidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 154 (4): 781-794 - get paper here
  • Geyle, H. M., Tingley, R., Amy, A., Cogger, H., Couper, P., Cowan, M., Craig, M., Doughty, P., Driscoll, D., Ellis, R., Emery, J-P., Fenner, A., Gardner, M., Garnett, S., Gillespie, G., Greenless, M., Hoskin, C., Keogh, S., Lloyd, R., ... Chapple, D. 2020. Reptiles on the brink: Identifying the Australian terrestrial snake and lizard species most at risk of extinction. Pacific Conservation Biology - get paper here
  • Sadlier, R A 1990. A new species of scincid lizard from western Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. The Beagle 7 (2) 1990: 29-33
  • Wells, R. W. and Wellington, C. R. 1985. A classification of the Amphibia and Reptilia of Australia. Australian Journal of Herpetology, Supplementary Series (1): 1-61 [sometimes cited as 1983] - get paper here
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
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