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Brachyseps spilostichus (ANDREONE & GREER, 2002)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymAmphiglossus spilostichus ANDREONE & GREER 2002: 142
Amphiglossus spilostichus — SCHMITZ et al. 2005 
DistributionNE Madagascar

Type locality: Tsararano Forest, Campsite 2 (Andatony Anivo), Andapa Fivondronana, Antsiranana Faritany (Diégo Suarez Province), 14°54.8'S, 49°42.6'E, elevation 650 m.  
TypesHolotype: MRSN R1737 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Distinguished from all other Amphiglossus except A. mandady n. sp. (below) in having a colour pattern of pale dashes arranged linearly through the centres of the otherwise brown scales on the dorsum, sides of the neck and anterior body. Differs from A. mandady most noticeably in having longitudinal scale rows at midbody 27±30 vs 24 (see A. mandady for further distinguishing characters) (Andreone et al. 2002).

Colour in life. The colour in life is similar to colour in preservative as described below. There were no obvious chromatic hues (Andreone et al. 2002).

Description: External morphology. In general appearance, a mediumsized skink (maximum SVL = 81.5 mm) with moderately well-developed limbs and a medium brown ground colour with a series of pale dashes through the centres of each dorsal and lateral scale row on the neck and trunk, most well defined on dorsum of neck and anterior body and on flanks.
Snout bluntly rounded in both lateral and medial aspect; rostral band-like with only slight posteromedial projection onto dorsum of snout; supranasals in contact; frontonasal wider than long; prefrontals absent; frontal constricted anteriorly by first supraocular, that is, frontal hourglass-shaped (Greer & Shea, 2000); supraoculars four, first constricting frontal, all four contacting frontal; frontoparietals absent; interparietal present, well separated from supraoculars; parietal eyespot present with parietal eye evident; parietals contact posterior to interparietal; nuchals a single pair.
Nasal an anteriorly open crescent, just slightly larger than nostril; nostril bordered by short section of rostral anteriorly and by small, crescentic nasal elsewhere; postnasal present, in narrow contact with second supralabial; loreal single, about as deep as long; preocular single; presubocular single; supraciliaries seven (three sides) or eight (one side), in continuous row, first contacting frontal strongly, first three contacting first supraocular, last projecting onto supraocular shelf; upper palpebrals small except for last which projects dorsomedially slightly; pretemporals two, both contacted by parietal; postsuboculars two, upper contacting lower pretemporal, both contacting penultimate supralabial; lower eyelid moveable, scaly; lower palpebrals small, longer than deep, interdigitating with large columnar scales of central eyelid; contact between upper palpebrals and supraciliaries direct but ̄exible, i.e. palpebral cleft narrow; primary temporal single; secondary temporals two, upper long, contacting lower pretemporal anteriorly and nuchal posteriorly and overlapping lower secondary temporal ventrally; tertiary temporal bordering lower secondary temporal single; supralabials six, fourth subocular and contacting scales of lower eyelid; postsupralabial single; external ear opening large (approximately half size of eye opening), circular to vertically suboval, with short, narrow, blunt lobules anteriorly and extending variably around rest of auricular rim.
Mental appreciably wider than long; postmental wider than long, contacting two infralabials; infralabials six; three pairs of large chin scales, members of first pair in contact, members of second pair separated by one scale row, and members of third pair separated by three scale rows; genials do not extend between infralabials and large chin scales.
Body scales cycloid, smooth, with single row of minute pits along posterior edge of each dorsal and lateral scale; longitudinal scale rows at mid-body 27±30; paravertebrals 70±72, except for nuchals, similar in size to adjacent scales; ventrals 70±71; inner preanals overlap outer; scales of midventral caudal series similar in size to more adjacent scales.
Both pairs of limbs pentadactyl; as a proportion of SVL, front limb 21% (15.5±17.0 mm) and rear limb 30± 32% (24.0±25.0 mm); subdigital lamellae beneath fourth digit of pes, 21 (two with complete digits), not counting one or two rows of small scales at base of digits (Andreone et al. 2002). 
CommentBrachyseps spilostichus has been “tentatively” assigned to the genus Brachyseps by Erens et al. 2017.

Abundance: only known from its original description (Meiri et al. 2017). 
EtymologyNamed after the Greek words for spot' (spilos) and “stripe” (stichos) to call attention the linearly spotted pattern of the species. 
  • Andreone, F. & Greer, A.E. 2002. Malagasy scincid lizards: descriptions of nine new species, with notes on the morphology, reproduction and taxonomy of some previously described species (Reptilia, Squamata: Scincidae). Journal of Zoology 258, 139-181 - get paper here
  • Erens, Jesse; Aurélien Miralles, Frank Glaw, Lars Chatrou, Miguel Vences 2016. Extended molecular phylogenetics and revised systematics of Malagasy scincine lizards. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution - get paper here
  • Meiri, Shai; Aaron M. Bauer, Allen Allison, Fernando Castro-Herrera, Laurent Chirio, Guarino Colli, Indraneil Das, Tiffany M. Doan, Frank Glaw, Lee L. Grismer, Marinus Hoogmoed, Fred Kraus, Matthew LeBreton, Danny Meirte, Zoltán T. Nagy, Cristiano d 2017. Extinct, obscure or imaginary: the lizard species with the smallest ranges. Diversity and Distributions - get paper here
  • Schmitz, A.; M.C. Brandley; P. Mausfeld; M. Vences; F. Glaw; R.A. Nussbaum and T.W. Reeder 2005. Opening the black box: phylogenetics and morphological evolution of the Malagasy fossorial lizards of the subfamily “Scincinae”. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34: 118–133 (published online 2004) - get paper here
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