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Caledoniscincus constellatus SADLIER, WHITAKER, WOOD & BAUER, 2012

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Eugongylinae (Eugongylini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymCaledoniscincus constellatus SADLIER, WHITAKER, WOOD & BAUER 2012 
DistributionNew Caledonia (Province Nord)

Type locality: Pointe de Vavouto, Province Nord, New Caledonia 21°00'39.8"S 164°41'04.3"E.  
Reproductionoviparous (phylogenetic imputation, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 2011.0228 (formerly AMS R171497) (collected R.A. Sadlier and A.H. Whitaker 27 Jan. 2009). Paratypes. AMS R171496 Pointe de Vavouto 21°00'35.1"S 164°41'02.0"E (collected R.A. Sadlier and A.H. Whitaker 27 Jan. 2009); AMS R171470 Pointe de Vavouto 21°00'40.3"S 164°41'07.9"E (collected R.A. Sadlier and A.H. Whitaker 26 Jan. 2009); AMS R171471 Pointe de Vavouto 21°00'34.5"S 164°41'02.0"E (collected R.A. Sadlier and A.H. Whitaker 26 Jan. 2009). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Caledoniscincus constellatus sp. nov. can be distinguished from the other species of Caledoniscin- cus by the following combination of characters: (a) moderately small size (adult male 46–57mm SVL; adult female 57mm SVL); (b) tail long, approximately 2.0+ longer than body; (c) the fourth toe being covered with 17–19 scales above and 31–33 lamellae below; (d) a broad pale midlateral stripe; (e) bright yellow ventral colour in adults of both sexes. The presence of a pale midlateral stripe in Caledoniscincus constellatus sp. nov. will distinguish it from all other species of Caledoniscincus except C. haplorhinus and populations of C. austrocaledonicus from the central and northern regions of New Caledonia, both of which also have this character state, and which also occur in the north- west region of New Caledonia. Caledoniscincus constellatus sp. nov. is sympatric with C. haplorhinus on the Pointe de Vavouto, and locally sympatric with both C. haplorhinus and C. austrocaledonicus which occur on the Massif d’Ouazangou-Taom. The general pattern of C. constellatus sp. nov. and C. haplorhinus are similar to each other in that the males and females are two-toned with a light dorsal surface contrasting with a noticeably darker upper lateral surface which is bordered below by a pale midlateral stripe. The most consistent difference between the two species, and with C. austrocaledonicus, is in the positioning of the pale midlateral stripe where it contacts the back of the ear opening (Fig. 2): in C. constellatus sp. nov. the pale midlateral stripe is broad, meets most of the posterior edge of the ear and then continues broadly from the anterior edge of the ear unbroken to the anterior-most upper labials; in C. haplorhinus the pale midlateral stripe is narrow, joins the upper posterior edge of the ear and forms a pale edge over the ear and continues anteriorly as a row of broken pale markings to the anterior upper labials; in C. austrocaledonicus the pale midlateral stripe is narrow, follows a line anteriorly towards the middle of the rear edge of the ear opening, but loses definition approaching the ear opening. The tail of C. constellatus sp. nov. (208% SVL) is also longer than that of C. haplorhinus (maximum 173% SVL) or C. austrocaledonicus (~150% SVL).
There are also marked differences in ventral colouration between these three species. Adult male and female C. constellatus sp. nov. have bold yellow ventral surfaces which distinguish them from C. haplorhinus (adult males moderate yellow; adult females pale yellow) and from C. austrocaledonicus (adult males orange; adult females moderate yellow). Further, the reticulate pattern of narrow, bicoloured transverse bars in adult male C. constellatus sp. nov. is unique and readily distinguishes them from adult male C. haplorhinus which lack any transverse mark- ings on the dorsal surface, and male C. austrocaledonicus which has a pale vertebral marking (rough stripe or variably connected blotches) down the centre of the back.
In scalation there is highly significant levels of difference (t < 0.005) between C. constellatus sp. nov. and C. haplorhinus (all populations included) in toe scalation and number of midbody scale rows (Table 1). However, there is overlap in range of values for these characters and they are not significantly different when compared with syntopic C. haplorhinus, limiting their usefulness diagnostic markers in the identification of individuals [from SADLIER et al. 2012]. 
EtymologyThe species epithet is Latin for studded with stars and refers to the pattern of white specks on the dorsal surface of males of the species. 
  • SADLIER, ROSS A.; ANTHONY H. WHITAKER, PERRY L.WOOD, JR. & AARON M. BAUER 2014. A new species of lizard in the genus Caledoniscincus (Reptilia: Scincidae) from far northwest New Caledonia. Zootaxa 3795 (1): 045–060 - get paper here
  • SADLIER, ROSS A.; TONY WHITAKER, PERRY L.WOOD, JR. & AARON M. BAUER 2012. A new species of scincid lizard in the genus Caledoniscincus (Reptilia: Scincidae) from northwest New Caledonia. Zootaxa 3229: 47–57 - get paper here
  • Zimin, A., Zimin, S. V., Shine, R., Avila, L., Bauer, A., Böhm, M., Brown, R., Barki, G., de Oliveira Caetano, G. H., Castro Herrera, F., Chapple, D. G., Chirio, L., Colli, G. R., Doan, T. M., Glaw, F., Grismer, L. L., Itescu, Y., Kraus, F., LeBreton 2022. A global analysis of viviparity in squamates highlights its prevalence in cold climates. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 00, 1–16 - get paper here
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