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Chalcides pulchellus MOCQUARD, 1906

IUCN Red List - Chalcides pulchellus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Mocquard's Cylindrical Skink 
SynonymChalcides pulchellus MOCQUARD 1906: 466
Chalcides pulchellus — MONARD 1940: 170
Chalcides pulchellus — BRYGOO 1985: 88
Chalcides pulchellus — GREENBAUM et al. 2006
Chalcides thierryi pulchellus 
DistributionSW Burkina Faso (= Upper Volta)

Type locality: “Soudan français, région du Lobi” (BRYGOO 1985: 88.  
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 1906.0150 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Chalcides pulchellus is a relatively large, pentadactyl species with extensively expanded vertebral scales, 22-24 scale rows at midbody, relatively long tail, and a dorsal ground colour of brown or bronze-brown with
transverse rows of dark brown spots (lacking white borders on the tail) across the flanks, dorsum, and tail. Chalcides pulchellus is readily distinguished from its sub-Saharan conspecifics. Chalcides pulchellus is distinguished from C. thierryi by 22-24 scale rows at midbody (20-22 in C. thierryi), 79-86 vertebrals (85-91 in C. thierryi), 13-17 subdigital lamellae under Toe IV (9-13 in C. thierryi), five phalanges in Toe IV (four in C. thierryi), 37-42 presacral vertebrae (41-44 in C. thierryi), a brown or bronze-brown ground colour (tan or brown in C. thierryi), and brown spots that always lack white borders on the tail (brown spots that usually have white borders on the tail in C. thierryi). Chalcides pulchellus is distinguished from C. armitagei by pentadactyl limbs (tridactyl in C. armitagei), six supralabials (five in C. armitagei), six infralabials (four in C. armitagei), one postnasal (absent in C. armitagei), 79-86 ventrals (94-96 in C. armitagei), and 37-42 presacral vertebrae (50-51 in C. armitagei) (Caputo et al. 1995). Chalcides pulchellus is distinguished from C. ocellatus and C. ragazzii by extensively expanded vertebrals (unexpanded or weakly expanded in C. ocellatus and C. ragazzii), uniform dorsal colour pattern (longitudinal stripes in C. ocellatus and C. ragazzii), and lack of white ocelli (extensive white ocelli in C. ocellatus and C. ragazzii). Chalcides pulchellus is distinguished from C. bottegi by a uniform dorsal colour pattern (stripes in C. bottegi) and lack of white ocelli (extensive white ocelli in C. bottegi). (Greenbaum 2005)

Description of the Holotype. Based on its relatively small size, the holotype (Fig. 2a) is probably a subadult of unknown sex; morphometric and meristic data are shown in Tables 3 and 4. Head relatively small, as wide as neck; snout short, sides converging to rounded point, slightly projecting beyond labial margin; body slightly wider than neck, slightly depressed; limbs moderately short, forelimb laid forward reaches past ear opening, hind limb fails to reach axilla by 31 mm; tail round in cross section, tapering gradually to fine point.
A pair of narrow, elongated supranasals form a suture at the median line, contact rostral anteriorly, with internasal posteriorly; internasal contacts both frenals, first supraocular, as well as supranasals and frontal; frontal longer than wide, contacts first three supraoculars laterally, and interparietal and both parietals posteriorly; parietals large, meeting behind interparietal; interparietal shield-shaped, with parietal eye on posterocentral part of scale; two unkeeled nuchals meet at angle behind interparietal; first supraocular largest; first supraciliary longest;
nasal pierced by nostril at anterior edge, nostril above suture between rostral and first supralabial; postnasal small, between nasal, supranasal, frenal, and first two supralabials; frenal large, contacts both frenoculars on right side (single frenocular on left), first supraocular, internasal, postnasal, and second and third supralabials; two frenoculars on right side, lower frenocular about twice as high as upper frenocular; two small postsuboculars just above sixth supralabial; lower eyelid with a rectangular, semi-transparent window; ear opening much larger than nostril, ventrally triangular or circular; mental large, wider than rostral, bordered posteriorly by one equally large post-mental; two anterior chin shields meet medially behind postmental; vertebral scales expanded, about three times wider than long; other dorsal, lateral, and ventral scales of the trunk subequal, smooth, imbricate, hexagonal, about twice as wide as long; scales of palms and soles juxtaposed, raised, smooth. (Greenbaum 2005)

Colouration of Holotype in Preservative. The holotype has a background dorsal colour of rusty brown on the head and vertebrals, grading into tan on the lateral sides of the dorsum, becoming silvery gray on the flanks. Large dark brown blotches and spots are present on the posterior border of scales of the head plates, limbs, dorsum, and flanks to the tip of the tail. Transverse rows of dark brown blotches are formed across the dorsum, and become rows of spots on the flanks. Venter immaculate cream except on the tail, where the transverse rows form light brown rings that reach to the ventral, lateral sides of the tail. (Greenbaum 2005) 
CommentSynonymy: GUIBÉ 1954 considers this species as a synonym of Chalcides bottegi. 
EtymologyNamed after Latin “pulchellus” = pretty. 
  • Brygoo, E.R. 1985. Les types des scincidés (Reptiles, Sauriens) du Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, catalogue critique. Bull. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat. (4e sér.) 7 (sect. A 3), suppl.: 1-126
  • Greenbaum, E.; Campbell, A.C. & Raxworthy, C.J. 2006. A revision of sub-saharan Chalcides (Squamata: Scincidae) with redescriptions of two East African species. Herpetologica 62 (1): 71-89 - get paper here
  • Mocquard, F. 1906. Description de quelques espéces nouvelles de Reptiles. Bull. Mus. nat. Hist. nat., Paris 7: 464-466. - get paper here
  • Monard, ALBERT 1940. Résultats de la mission du Dr. Monard en Guinée Portugaise 1937 – 1938. Arq. Mus. Bocage, Lisbon 11: 147-182
  • Trape, J.F.; Trape, S. & Chirio, L. 2012. Lézards, crocodiles et tortues d'Afrique occidentale et du Sahara. IRD Orstom, 503 pp. - get paper here
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