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

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Eugongylinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Common Names 
SynonymLampropholis similis SINGHAL, HOSKIN, COUPER, POTTER & MORITZ 2018 
DistributionAustralia (Queensland, near Townsville)

Type locality: The Pinnacles, SW of Townsville (19° 23' 42" S, 146° 39' 07" E).  
TypesHolotype: QM J91380; Paratypes: QM J49741 Gadgarra SF (17° 16' S, 145° 41' E); QM J49593 Bellenden Ker NP, TV station (17° 16' S,145° 51' E); QM J47096, J49619, J66621 Lake Eacham (17° 17' S, 145° 37' E); QM J39865 Bellenden Ker Ra, Cableway Base Station (17° 20' S, 145° 52' E); QM J45916, J45918 Russell R, cave site (17° 22' S, 145° 53' E); QM J49576, J49613 Mt Hypipamee NP (17° 25' 54" S, 145° 29' 08" E); QM J48692 Longlands Gap, Herberton Range (17° 27' 45" S, 145° 28' 30" E); QM J62904 Stone Ck, Hasenpusch Property (17° 28' S, 146° 01' E); QM J73520 Millaa Millaa Lookout (17° 31' S, 145° 37' E); QM J61054 E margin of Palmerston NP (17° 37' S, 145° 46' E), QM J31134, J31135 Majors Mt, via Ravenshoe (17° 38' 20" S, 145° 31' 15" E); QM J62704 Dunk Is (17° 57' S, 146° 09' E); QM J74017 Kirrama (18° 10' S, 145° 38' E), QM J44199, J44173 Hinchinbrook Is, Gayundah Ck (18° 22' S, 146° 13' E); QM J49610 Curacoa Is, Palm group (18° 40' S, 146° 33' E); QM J76307 Palm Is (18° 45' S, 146° 36' E); QM J53044 Mt Halifax, 250 m SE (19° 06' S, 146° 22' E); QM J46777 Bluewater Ra, N of Townsville (19° 11' S, 146° 33' E); QM J86759 Hervey Range (19° 21' 49.98" S, 146° 28' 42.36" E); QM J91377, J91378, The Pinnacles, SW of Townsville (19° 23' 37" S, 146° 39' 07" E); QM J27621 Hervey Ra, 10km S, 35km W Townsville (19° 35' S, 146° 36' E). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Lampropholis similis sp. nov. is a small, dark-sided rainforest skink with pentadactyl limbs (overlapping or very narrowly separated when adpressed) and a movable lower eyelid containing a transparent disc. It is reliably distinguished from its sibling species (L. coggeri and L. elliotensis sp. nov.) by 17 nucleotide differences in the mitochondrial gene NADH dehydrogenase subunit 4 that result in 15 amino acid differences (Table A1).

Measurements and scale counts of holotype QM J91380: SVL 39.4 mm; AG 20 mm; L1 9.58 mm; L2 14.1 mm; HL 7.9 mm; HW 6.1 mm; midbody scale rows 28; paravertebral scales 49; lamellae beneath fourth toe 22; supralabials 7; infralabials 6; supraciliaries 7.

Description: SVL 32.4–42.2 mm (n = 29, mean = 37.5); AG % SVL 41–58% SVL (n = 29, mean = 51%); L1 22–29% SVL (n = 10, mean = 25%); L2 30–39% SVL (n = 29, mean = 35%); HW 69– 89% HL (n = 29, mean = 75%). Body: Robust. Head and body continuous with almost no narrowing at neck. Snout rounded in profile. Limbs well-developed, pentadactyl, meeting or very 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 J27621), first largest; lower eyelid movable with small palpebral disc, about 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 (one in QMJ45916, J45918, J49613, J49741 and J66621), 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 26–31 (n = 29, mode = 28); paravertebral scales (to the level of the posterior margin of the hindlimbs) 47–52 (n = 29, mode = 50); fourth toe longest, subdigital lamellae 20–24 (n = 27, mode = 22 ) 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: Separating this species from other members of the ‘L. coggeri’ group (L. coggeri and L. elliotensis sp. nov.) relies heavily on genetic data. Seventeen nucleotide differences in the mitochondrial gene NADH dehydrogenase subunit 4 result in differences at 15 amino acids among these species (Table A1). Additionally, both L. similis sp. nov. and L. coggeri tend to be longer-limbed than L. elliotensis sp. nov. (Table 2, S8). In these species, the adpressed limbs usually touch or overlap. In L. elliotensis sp. nov. the adpressed limbs are usually separated by several scale rows. 
CommentHabitat: Occurs in rainforest and associated moist habitats, including wet sclerophyll forests, montane heath, and gallery forests; occurs from sea level to the uplands but is generally absent from the peaks where L. bellendenkerensis occurs. 
EtymologyFrom the Latin for similar, alluding to its likeness with L. coggeri. 
  • 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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