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Lampropholis bellendenkerensis SINGHAL, HOSKIN, COUPER, POTTER & MORITZ, 2018

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Eugongylinae (Eugongylini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Bellenden Ker sunskink 
SynonymLampropholis bellendenkerensis SINGHAL, HOSKIN, COUPER, POTTER & MORITZ 2018 
DistributionAustralia (uplands of the Bellenden Ker Range [Mt Bellenden Ker and Mt Bartle Frere] and in the highest areas of the southern Atherton Tablelands [including Mt Baldy, Longman’s Gap, Mt Fisher and the Tully Falls area]). Elevation >900 m.

Type locality: Bellenden Ker Ra (17° 20' S, 145° 52' E).  
TypesHolotype: QM J39855; Paratypes: QM J51406 Mt Lewis SF, 25 km along rd (16° 31' 45" S, 145° 16' 30" E); QM J62209 Bellenden Ker, top of (17° 13' S, 145° 53' E); QM J55837 Massey Ra, 4km W Centre Bellenden Ker (17° 16' S, 145° 49' E); QM J40033, J40036, J40037, J40038, J40039 Mt Bellenden Ker summit, near TV Tower and station (17° 16' S, 145° 51' E); QM J46193 Bellenden Ker NP (17° 16' S, 145° 51' E); QM J39490, J39491 Mt Bellenden Ker summit (17° 20' S, 145° 52' E); QM J40041 Mt Bartle Frere, east face (17° 24' S, 145° 49' E); QM J47956, J47959 Mt Bartle Frere (17° 24' S, 145° 49' E); QM J64652 Longlands Gap (17° 28' S, 145° 29' E); QM J31196 Mt Fisher, via Millaa Millaa (17° 33' S, 145° 33' E); QM J41707, J41708 Mt Fisher, Whiteing Rd, 7 km SW Millaa Millaa (17° 33' S, 145° 33' E). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A large Lampropholis with dark flanks and prominent spotting on the posterior ventral surfaces, a row of dark edged pale spots on underside of tail (Fig. A2). This species is reliably distinguished from its closest congener (L. robertsi) by 13 nucleotide differences in the mitochondrial gene NADH dehydrogenase 4 that result in nine amino acid differences between the species (Table A2 in Singhal et al. 2018).

Measurements and scale counts of holotype QM J39855: (specimen also a paratype of L. robertsi): SVL 43.7mm; AG 22.9 mm; L1 12.1 mm; L2 16.6 mm; HL 8.1 mm; HW 6.1 mm; midbody scale rows 28; paravertebral scales 54; lamellae beneath fourth toe 23; supralabials 7; infralabials 6; supraciliaries 7.

Description: SVL 35.4–47.5 mm (n = 16, mean = 42.13); AG % SVL 46–56% SVL (n = 16, mean = 51%); L1 24–30% (n = 16, mean = 28); L2 33–40% SVL (n = 16, mean = 37%); HW 67–75% HL (n = 16, mean = 71%). Body: Robust. Head and body continuous with almost no narrowing at neck. Snout rounded in profile. Limbs well-developed, pentadactyl, meeting or narrowly separated when adpressed. Scalation: Dorsal scales smooth (or with three to four faint striations) with a broadly curved posterior edge; nasals widely spaced; rostral and frontonasal in broad contact; prefrontals moderately to widely separated; frontal contacting frontonasal, prefrontals, first two supraoculars and frontoparietal; supraoculars four, second largest; supraciliaries seven (eight in QM J47959, J46193 and J51406), first largest but sometimes subequal to third or fourth; lower eyelid movable with small palpebral disc, less than half the size of lower eyelid; ear opening round to vertically elliptic, subequal to or smaller than palpebral disc; frontoparietals fused, interparietal free; primary temporal single, secondary temporals two (upper largest and overlapping lower); loreals two, subequal or second largest; preoculars two, lower largest; presuboculars two, upper largest; supralabials seven, with fifth below eye and last overlapping lower secondary temporal and postsupralabials; postsupralabial divided; infralabials six, two in contact with postmental; midbody scale rows 26–30 (n = 18, mode = 28); paravertebral scales (to the level of the posterior margin of the hindlimbs) 48–55 (n = 17, mode = 51); fourth toe longest, subdigital lamellae 21–24 (n = 15, mode = 23) with a single row of scales on the dorsal surface; outer preanal scales overlap inner preanals; three pairs of enlarged chin shields, first pair in contact, second pair separated by a single scale row, third pair separated by three scale rows.

Comparison with similar species: See species account for L. robertsi.
EtymologyNamed after the type locality. 
  • Singhal, Sonal; Conrad J Hoskin, Patrick Couper, Sally Potter, Craig Moritz 2018. A framework for resolving cryptic species: a case study from the lizards of the Australian Wet Tropics. Systematic Biology, syy026 - get paper here
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