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Brachymeles tridactylus BROWN, 1956

IUCN Red List - Brachymeles tridactylus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Three-fingered Short-legged Skink 
SynonymBrachymeles tridactylus BROWN 1956
Brachymeles tridactylus — BROWN & ALCALA 1980: 27
Brachymeles tridactylus — GAULKE 2001: 9
Brachymeles tridactylus — SILER et al. 2009 
DistributionPhilippines (Negros, Panay, Carabao, Boracay, Inampulugan, West-Visayas)

Type locality: Mayaposi area, southcentral Negros Island; “1 to 3 kilometers northwest of Mayaposi spring, about 20 kilometers west of Bais,’’ Negros Oriental Province, Negros Island, Philippines, fide Davis et al. 2014.  
TypesHolotype: CAS-SUR 18354 
DiagnosisDEFINITION. A moderate-sized, slender species of Brachymeles, 68 to 80 mm. in snout-vent length for 30 mature specimens; breadth of head about equal to diameter of body; ratio of head-breadth to snout-vent length about 0.065 to 0.080 for 20 specimens; limbs much reduced, length of hind limb about 4 to 6 percent of snout-vent length for 20 specimens; three short digits present on both fore and hind limbs; frontal large: supranasals, prefrontals and frontoparietals not in contact; no postnasal; two frenals; four supraoculars; usually one pair of nuchals: 22 to 24 midbody scale rows and 93 to 10.3 (mean 96.9 for 21 specimens) mid-dorsal scale rows between parietals and base of tail (table 1); venter brownish in color, scarcely lighter than the dorsum [BROWN & RABOR 1967: 528]

Diagnosis: Brachymeles tridactylus can be distinguished from congeners by the following combination of characters: 1) body size small (SVL 59.9–82.3 mm); 2) limbs tridactyl; 3) limb length short; 4) supralabials six or seven; 5) infralabials six or seven; 6) supraciliaries five; 7) supraoculars four; 8) midbody scale rows 22–24; 9) axilla–groin scale rows 72–79; 10) paravertebral scale rows 90–98; 11) pineal eye spot present; 12) prefrontals not contacting on midline; 13) frontoparietals not contacting on midline; 14) mental/first infralabial fusion absent; 15) postnasals absent; 16) enlarged chin shields in three pairs; 17) nuchal scales enlarged; 18) auricular opening absent; 19) presacral vertebrae 47; and 20) uniform body color (Tables 3, 4; Appendix II).

Characters distinguishing B. tridactylus from all nonpentadactyl, limbed species of Brachymeles are summarized in Tables 3 and 4. Brachymeles tridactylus most closely resembles B. libayani, B. muntingkamay, and B. paeforum, the only other tridactyl species. However, B. tridactylus differs from these three taxa by having five supraciliaries (vs. six [B. libayani, B. muntingkamay, B. paeforum]) and four supraoculars (vs. five [B. libayani, B. muntingkamay, B. paeforum]; Table 4); from B. libayani by having six or seven infralabials (vs. five); from B. libayani and B. paeforum by having frontoparietals separate (vs. in medial contact) and by the absence of fusion of the mental and first infralabial (vs. presence; Table 4); and from B. muntingkamay by having 47 presacral vertebrae (vs. 42, 44), 72–79 axilla–groin scale rows (vs. 65–70), 90–98 paravertebral scale rows (vs. 85– 90), prefrontals separate (vs. in medial contact), enlarged nuchals present (vs. absent), and by the absence of longitudinal rows of dark spots around the body (vs. present; Table 4). Brachymeles tridactylus can be distinguished from all limbless species of Brachymeles by having limbs and from all pentadactyl species of Brachymeles by having tridactyl limbs [Davis et al. 2014]. 
CommentLimb morphology: reduced limbs.

Habitat: semifossorial and typically found in dry, rotting material inside or underneath decaying logs or in loose soil, forest floor detritus, and leaf litter of lowland forest. 
  • Brown WC & RABOR DS 1967. Review of the genus Brachymeles (Sauria), with descriptions of new species and subspecies. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (4) 34: 525-548 - get paper here
  • Brown, Walter C. 1956. A revision of the genus Brachymeles (Scincidae), with descriptions of new species and subspecies. Breviora (54): 1-19 - get paper here
  • Brown, WC. & A.C. ALCALA 1980. Philippine Lizards of the family Scincidae. Silliman Univ. Nat. Sci., Dumaguete City, Mon., Ser. 2: i-xi + 1-246.
  • DAVIS, DREW R.; AARON D. GEHEBER, JESSA L. WATTERS, MICHELLE L. PENROD, KATHRYN D. FELLER, ALISSA ASHFORD, JOSH KOURI, DANIEL NGUYEN, KATHRYN SHAUBERGER, KYRA SHEATSLEY, CLAIRE WINFREY, RACHEL WONG, MARITES B. SANGUILA, RAFE M. BROWN & CAMERON D. SIL 2016. Additions to Philippine Slender Skinks of the Brachymeles bonitae Complex (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae) III: a new species from Tablas Island. Zootaxa 4132 (1): 030–043 - get paper here
  • Davis, Drew R.; Kathryn D. Feller, Rafe M. Brown, and Cameron D. Siler 2014. Evaluating the Diversity of Philippine Slender Skinks of the Brachymeles bonitae Complex (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae): Redescription of B. tridactylus and Descriptions of Two New Species. Journal of Herpetology 48 (4): 480-494. - get paper here
  • Gaulke, M. 2001. Die Herpetofauna von Sibaliw (Panay), einem der letzten Tieflandregenwaldgebiete der West-Visayas, Philippinen. Teil III. Echsen und Diskussion. Herpetofauna 23 (132): 5-18 - get paper here
  • Meneses CG, Siler CD, Alviola PA, Gonzalez JCT, Balatibat JB, Natividad CA, Brown RM 2022. Amphibian and reptile diversity along a ridge-to-reef elevational gradient on a small isolated oceanic island of the central Philippines. Check List 18(5): 941-948 - get paper here
  • Siler, C. D., Freitas, E. S., Sheridan, J. A., Maguire, S. N., Davis, D. R., Watters, J. L., ... & Brown, R. M. 2020. Additions to Philippine slender skinks of the Brachymeles bonitae complex (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae) IV: Resurrection and redescription of Brachymeles burksi. Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology, DOI 10.26757/pjsb2020b14005 - get paper here
  • Siler, Cameron D.; Arvin C. Diesmos, Angel C. Alcala and Rafe M. Brown 2011. Phylogeny of Philippine slender skinks (Scincidae: Brachymeles) reveals underestimated species diversity, complex biogeographical relationships, and cryptic patterns of lineage diversification. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 59 (1): 53-65 - get paper here
  • Siler, Cameron D.; Edmond L. Rico, Mariano R. Duya, and Rafe M. Brown 2009. A NEW LIMB-REDUCED, LOAM-SWIMMING SKINK (SQUAMATA: SCINCIDAE: BRACHYMELES) FROM CENTRAL LUZON ISLAND, PHILIPPINES. Herpetologica 65 (4): 449 - get paper here
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