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Egernia cunninghami (GRAY, 1832)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Egerniinae (Tiliquini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Cunningham's Spiny-tailed Skink, Cunningham's Skink 
SynonymTiliqua cunninghami GRAY 1832: 40
Egernia krefftii PETERS 1871: 30
Egernia lohmanni WERNER 1917: 32
Egernia cunninghami — COGGER 1983: 155
Egernia barnetti WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985
Egernia jossae WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985
Egernia kennersoni WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985
Egernia cunninghami — COGGER 2000: 457
Egernia cunninghami — DOUGHTY et al. 2011
Egernia cunninhamii — WHILE et al. 2015 (in error) 
DistributionAustralia (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria), elevation above 1000 m.

Type locality: Western Australia [in error], eastern Australia in lat. 29° S.  
ReproductionViviparous. This is one of the few reptile species in which monogamy has been observed (Chapple 2003). 
TypesHolotype: BMNH xv.85a
Holotype: ZMB 341, from Sydney, N. S. W. [Egernia krefftii]
Holotype: unknown [Egernia lohmanni] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Medium to very large skinks with strong pentadactyl limbs, lower eyelid moveable and without transparent disc, interparietal completely separating parietals, no supranasal, four supraoculars (first two in contact with frontal), normally two loreals, usually two presuboculars, normally three temporals (lower secondary usually largest, primary smallest), and prominent ear aperture bearing one or more large lobules. Distinguishable from Tiliqua by fragile tail (except in E. depressa and stokesii), unpigmented tongue, and absence of occipitals and large suboculars (when suboculars present in Egernia they are much smaller than presuboculars) (Storr 1978: 148).

Diagnosis (genus): A genus of medium to large Egernia group skinks; usually dorsoventrally compressed, but with a more stout habitus in E. kingii and E. rugosa; MBSR 24–46; dorsal scales smooth, striated, multi-keeled and/or with long spine; postnarial groove (if present) on nasal scale in contact with first supralabial; parietals separated by interparietal; subocular scale row incomplete; eyes relatively small; eyelid colour similar to neighbouring scales [from Gardner et al. 2008].

Description: A genus of Egernia Group skinks, medium sized to large lizards [adult snout–vent length (SVL) 100–240 mm]; body squarish in the two larger species (kingii and rugosa) but head and body more or less dorsoventrally compressed in most; midbody scales in 24–46 rows, dorsals varying between species, from smooth, to striate to multi-keeled to spinose; nasal scale with postnarial groove running to the first supralabial; subocular scale row incomplete; eyes relatively small, the eyelids similarly coloured to the adjacent scales (Gardner et al. 2008: 790). 
CommentSynonymy after COGGER 1983 and Shea & Sadlier 1999.

Type species: Tiliqua cunninghami GRAY 1832 is the type species of the genus Egernia GRAY 1838. The genus is also the type genus of the family Egerniidae Hedges & Conn 2012 and of the tribus Tiliquini Gray 1845 (fide Shea 2021).

Definition (genus): The clade comprising Egernia cunninghami Gray, 1838, and all species that share a more recent common ancestor with Egernia cunninghami than with Tiliqua scincoides, Liopholis whitii, Lissolepis luctuosa or Bellatorias major. For a phylogenetic analysis including fossils see Thorn et al. 2021.

Morphology: Greer 1986 investigated the relative length of the anterior medial groove of the frontal bone in species of Egernia and Tiliqua as as a diagnostic character for being a member of Lygosominae vs. Scincinae.

Diet: herbivorous (Wilson & Lee 1974). 
EtymologyNamed after Allan Cunningham (1791-1839), a British explorer and botanist. He is buried in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. See Beolens et al. 2011: 60 for more details. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • Couper, P., Covacevich, J., Amey, A. & Baker, A. 2006. The genera of skinks (Family Scincidae) of Australia and its island territories: diversity, distribution and identification. in: Merrick, J.R., Archer, M., Hickey, G.M. & Lee, M.S.Y. (eds.). Evolution and Zoogeography of Australasian Vertebrates. Australian Scientific Publishing, Sydney, pp. 367-384
  • Doughty, Paul; Luke Kealley, and Stephen C. Donnellan 2011. Revision of the Pygmy Spiny-tailed Skinks (Egernia depressa species-group) from Western Australia, with descriptions of three new species. Rec. West. Austr. Mus. 26: 115–137
  • Eldridge, M. D. B., S. Ingleby, A. G. King, S. V. Mahony, H. E. Parnaby, C. A. Beatson, A. Divljan, G. J. Frankham, A. C. Hay, R. E. Major, S. E. Reader, R. A. Sadlier, and L. R. Tsang. 2020. Australian Museum surveys of the vertebrate fauna of Coolah Tops National Park, NSW. Technical Reports of the Australian Museum Online 30: 1–26 - get paper here
  • Fricke, M. 2002. Egernia cunninghami (GRAY 1832) - erfahrungen mit der Haltung und Nachzucht des Stachelskinks. Elaphe 10 (4): 24-28
  • Gardner, M. G., Hugall, A. F., Donnellan, S. C., Hutchinson, M. N., and Foster, R. 2008. Molecular systematics of social skinks: phylogeny and taxonomy of the Egernia group (Reptilia: Scincidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 154 (4): 781-794 - get paper here
  • Gardner, M.G., Pearson, S.K., Johnston, G.R., and Schwarz, M.P. 2015. Group living in squamate reptiles: a review of evidence for stable aggregations. Biol. Rev.
  • Gray, J.E. 1832. Three new animals brought from New Holland by Mr Cunningham. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1832: 39-40
  • Greenbaum, E. 2000. Herpetofaunal observations in disparate habitats in south Sustralia, New South Wales, and queensland, Australia. Herpetological Bulletin (72): 6-16 - get paper here
  • Greer, A. E. 1986. Lygosomine (Scincidae) monophyly: a third, corroborating character and a reply to critics. Journal of Herpetology 20 (1): 123-126 - get paper here
  • Horton, D. R. 1972. Lizard scales and adaptation. Systematic Zoology 21 (4): 441-443 - get paper here
  • Kay, G.M.; D. Michael; M. Crane; S. Okada; C. MacGregor; D. Florance; D. Trengove; L. McBurney; D. Blair; D.B. Lindenmayer. 2013. A list of reptiles and amphibians from Box Gum Grassy Woodlands in south-eastern Australia. Check List 9 (3):476-481 - get paper here
  • Lucas, A. H. S. & Frost, C. 1894. The lizards indigenous to Victoria. Proc. R. Soc. Vict. (ns) 6: 24-92 - get paper here
  • Michael, D.R.; D.B. Lindenmayer; M. Crane; C. MacGregor; R. Montague-Drake; L. McBurney. 2011. Reptilia, Murray catchment, New South Wales, southeastern Australia. Check List 7 (1):25-29 - get paper here
  • Mitchell, F. J. 1950. The scincid genera Egernia and Tiliqua (Lacertilia). Rec. South Austral. Mus. 9: 275-308 - get paper here
  • Niekisch, M. 1980. Terraristische Beobachtungen zur Biologie von Egernia cunninghami (Reptilia: Sauria: Scincidae). Salamandra 16 (3): 162-176 - get paper here
  • Niekisch, Manfred 1975. Pflege und Nachzucht von Egernia cunninghami (Sauria, Scincidae). Salamandra 11 (3-4): 130-135 - get paper here
  • Ofori BY, Stow AJ, Baumgartner JB, Beaumont LJ 2017. Combining dispersal, landscape connectivity and habitat suitability to assess climate-induced changes in the distribution of Cunningham’s skink, Egernia cunninghami. PLoS One 12 (9): e0184193 - get paper here
  • Peters, Wilhem Carl Hartwig 1871. Über neue Eidechsen (Egernia krefftii, Euprepes (Riopa) punctatolineatus). Monatsber. königl. Akad. Wiss. Berlin. 1871 (Februar): 30-32 - get paper here
  • Schade, W. 1980. Die erfolgreiche Zucht und Haltung von Egernia cunninghami (Stachelskink). Sauria 2 (1): 15-16 - get paper here
  • Schäfer, C. 1999. Egernia cunninghami (GRAY, 1832). Sauria 21 (3) Suppl.: 471-474 - get paper here
  • Schäfer, C. & Grossmann, W. 2004. Cunninghams Stachelskink, Egernia cunninghami. Natur und Tier Verlag (Münster), 64 pp. - get paper here
  • SHEA, G. M. 2021. Nomenclature of supra-generic units within the Family Scincidae (Squamata) Zootaxa 5067 (3): 301–351 - get paper here
  • Swan, G.; Sadlier, R.; Shea, G. 2017. A field guide to reptiles of New South Wales. Reed New Holland, 328 pp.
  • Thorn, K. M., Hutchinson, M. N., Lee, M. S. Y., Brown, N. J., Camens, A. B., & Worthy, T. H. 2021. A new species of Proegernia from the Namba Formation in South Australia and the early evolution and environment of Australian egerniine skinks. Royal Society Open Science, 8(2): 201686 - get paper here
  • Watson, Gregory Shaun; Jolanta Watson, David Green 2021. Giving birth out in the open: Observations of the Cunningham’s skink (Egernia cunninghami) giving birth upon exposed rocks. Herpetology Notes 14: 451-454 - get paper here
  • Werner, F. 1917. Über einige neue Reptilien und einen neuen Frosch des Zoologischen Museums in Hamburg. Mitt. Zool. Mus. Hamburg, 2. Beiheft zum Jahrbuch der Hamburgischen Wissenschaftlichen Anstalten 34: 31-36. - get paper here
  • While, Geoffrey M.;, David G. Chapple, Michael G. Gardner, Tobias Uller, and Martin J. Whiting 2015. Egernia lizards. Current Biology 25 (14): R593–R595, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.02.070 - get paper here
  • Wilson, K.J. & A.K. Lee 1974. Energy expenditure of a large herbivorous lizard Copeia 1974 (2): 338-348. - get paper here
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
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