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Caledoniscincus pelletieri SADLIER, WHITAKER, WOOD & BAUER, 2014

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Eugongylinae (Eugongylini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymCaledoniscincus pelletieri SADLIER, WHITAKER, WOOD & BAUER 2014 
DistributionNW New Caledonia

Type locality: Dôme de Tiébaghi (southwest end of plateau), Province Nord, New Caledonia 20°28'20"S 164°12'43"E.  
Reproductionoviparous (not imputed, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 2012.0225 (formerly AMS R.174984) (collected 23 November 2011, A.H. & V.A. Whitaker). Paratypes. All Province Nord, New Caledonia: AMS R.174994 Dôme de Tiébaghi (southwest end of plateau) 20°28'30"S 164°12'47"E (collected 24 November 2011, A.H. & V.A. Whitaker); AMS R.177490 Dôme de Tiébaghi (northern end of plateau) 20°26'18"S 164°11'42"E (collected 2 November 2012, S. Astrongatt); AMS R.177491 Dôme de Tiébaghi (southern end of plateau) 20°28'26"S 164°13'44"E (collected 5 November 2012, S. Astrongatt). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Caledoniscincus pelletieri sp. nov. can be distinguished from the other species of Caledoniscincus by the following combination of characters: (a) body size moderately large (largest of four adult females 58.5 mm SVL); (b) lamellae of fourth toe 35–37; (c) midlateral stripe broad, pale, extending between fore and hind limbs only; and (d) ventral colour bright yellow.
Only three other species of Caledoniscincus, C. constellatus, C. haplorhinus and C. austrocaledonicus (northern and central region populations, see Sadlier et al. 1999), have a pale lateral stripe along the lateral side of the body. However, in these taxa the pale mid-lateral stripe also extends along the neck between the forelimbs and ear opening (complete and unbroken in C. constellatus and C. haplorhinus, but broken in C. austrocaledonicus), whereas the mid-lateral stripe is absent from the neck of C. pelletieri sp. nov. The general colour pattern of the body of Caledoniscincus pelletieri sp. nov. is most similar to C. constellatus and C. haplorhinus. The females of all three taxa are distinctly two-toned with a light coloured dorsal surface that contrasts markedly with the adjacent darker upper lateral surface, which in turn, is bordered below by a pale midlateral stripe along the side of the body. The ventral colour of Caledoniscincus pelletieri sp. nov. is most similar to C. constellatus in that females of both species have a bold yellow ventral surface, whereas the ventral colour is paler in adult female C. austrocaledonicus (moderate yellow), and even more so in C. haplorhinus (pale yellow).
Caledoniscincus pelletieri sp. nov. is further distinguished from C. constellatus, C. haplorhinus and C. austrocaledonicus in having more lamellae (>35 vs <35) under the 4th toe of the foot (Table 1 in SADLIER et al. 2014). 
CommentCaledoniscincus pelletieri sp. nov., has a bold, white mid-lateral stripe on the body, a feature which distinguishes it from most other species of Caledoniscincus except the regionally sympatric Caledoniscincus haplorhinus (Günther) and Caledoniscincus austrocaledonicus (Bavay), and the recently described Caledoniscincus constellatus Sadlier, Whitaker, Wood & Bauer just to the south. The new species can be distinguished from these taxa in features of scalation and colouration, most notably in lacking an extension of the pale midlateral stripe between the ear and forelimbs and in having more lamellae on the underside of the fourth toe.

Genetics: The differences in morphology between C. pelletieri sp. nov. and the other members of the genus are complemented by a high level of genetic differentiation, further supporting its distinctiveness as an independent evolutionary lineage warranting recognition as a distinct species. The DNA sequence data for the ND2 mitochondrial gene identifies the new species as the sister to C. constellatus and these two taxa as the sister to all Caledoniscincus.

Abundance: only known from its original description (Meiri et al. 2017). 
EtymologyThe species is named after Bernard Pelletier, formerly head of environment for Société le Nickel (SLN), Nouméa, in recognition of his exceptional support to herpetological surveys of mining areas commissioned by SLN and undertaken by Whitaker Consultants Limited (AHW). 
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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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