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Melanoseps ater (GÜNTHER, 1873)

IUCN Red List - Melanoseps ater - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Black Limbless Skink 
SynonymHerpetosaura atra GÜNTHER 1873: 147
Melanoseps ater — BOULENGER 1887: 422
Melanoseps ater matengoensis LOVERIDGE 1942
Melanoseps ater matengoensis LOVERIDGE 1942: 361
Melanoseps ater misukuensis LOVERIDGE 1953: 220
Melanoseps ater — BRYGOO & ROUX-ESTEVE 1982
Melanoseps ater ater — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 14
Melanoseps ater matengoensis — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 14
Melanoseps ater — BROADLEY 1998
Melanoseps ater — BROADLEY et al. 2006
Melanoseps ater — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 171 
DistributionMozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire)

ater: Malawi, SW Tanzania (Rungwe Mountain). Type locality: Zambesi River = Shire Highlands, Malawi.

matengoensis: Matengo Highlands, Tanzania. Type locality: Ugano, Matengo Highlands, west of Songea, Tanzania.

misukuensis: Type locality: “edge of Matipa Forest, Misuku Mountains, 6000 feet, northern Nyasaland”  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.8.3.7
Syntypes: MCZ 44119, NMW [matengoensis]
Holotype: MCZ 50945, paratype: FMNH [misukuensis] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Skull characters: Palatine bones separated medially; palatal rami of pterygoids expanded medially and emarginated posteriorly; pterygoid teeth absent. Postorbital bone absent; supratemporal arch weak and fenestra obliterated by apposition of bones of the arch with the parietal bone; 10 to 13 maxillary teeth. External characters: Interparietal large, touching supraoculars; a pair of supranasals meeting behind rostral; no external ear opening; limbless [from GREER 1970]. 
CommentLimb morphology: limbless.

Subspecies: Melanoseps ater longicauda is treated as a full species by BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991. However, since it is known from only 2 specimens, it is listed here as a subspecies of ater, although it seems to be more closely related to M. rondoensis (BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991). BROADLEY et al. (2006) do not recognize the subspecies matengoensis and misukuensis and synonymize the with ater.

Type species: Herpetosaura atra GÜNTHER 1873 is the type species of the genus Melanoseps BOULENGER 1887. 
EtymologyNamed after its color, Latin “ater, atra, atrum” = dark or black. 
  • Bittencourt-Silva GB, Bayliss J, Conradie W. 2020. First herpetological surveys of Mount Lico and Mount Socone, Mozambique. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 14(2) [General Section]: 198–217 (e247) - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G. A. 1887. Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) III. Lacertidae, Gerrhosauridae, Scincidae, Anelytropsidae, Dibamidae, Chamaeleontidae. London: 575 pp. - get paper here
  • Broadley, D. G. 2000. Geographical Distribution: Melanoseps uzungwensis. African Herp News (31): 12-13 - get paper here
  • Broadley, D. G. & HOWELL, K. M. 1991. A check list of the reptiles of Tanzania, with synoptic keys. Syntarsus 1: 1—70
  • Broadley, D.G. 1998. The reptilian fauna of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa). In: Schmidt, K.P. and Noble, G.K., Contributions to the Herpetology of the Belgian Congo... [reprint of the 1919 and 1923 papers]. SSAR Facsimile reprints in Herpetology, 780 pp.
  • Brygoo E R; Roux-Esteve R 1982. Un genre de lezards scincines d'Afrique: Melanoseps. Bulletin du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle SECTION A ZOOLOGIE BIOLOGIE ET ECOLOGIE ANIMALES 3 (4) 1981: 1169-1191
  • Gemel, R.; G. Gassner & S. Schweiger 2019. Katalog der Typen der Herpetologischen Sammlung des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien – 2018. Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien, B 121: 33–248
  • Greer, Allen E. 1970. The systematics and evolution of the Subsaharan Africa, Seychelles, and Mauritius Scincine Scincid lizards. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 140 (1): 1-24 - get paper here
  • Günther, A. 1873. Notes on and descriptions of some lizards with rudimentary limbs, in the British Museum. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (4) 12: 145-148 - get paper here
  • Liniewski, Rachel; Shane Stanley, Julia Andrade & Phil Senter 2016. Vestigial appendicular skeletons in the African and Malagasy skink species Feylinia grandisquamis, Melanoseps ater, Grandidierina lineata and Voeltzkowia mira. African Journal of Herpetology 65 (1): 39-46 | DOI: 10.1080/21564574.2015.1133722 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1942. Scientific results of a fourth expedition to forested areas in east and central Africa. IV. Reptiles. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 91: 237-373 - get paper here
  • Pietersen, Darren, Verburgt, Luke & Davies, John 2021. Snakes and other reptiles of Zambia and Malawi. Struik Nature / Penguin Random House South Africa, 376 pp., ISBN 9781775847373
  • Spawls, S.; Howell, K.; Drewes, R.C. & Ashe, J. 2002. A field guide to the reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, 543 pp. [reviews in HR 34: 396 and Afr. J. Herp. 51; 147] - get paper here
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
  • Tornier, G. 1900. Neue Liste der Crocodile, Schildkröten und Eidechsen Deutsch-Ost-Afrikas. Zool. Jahrb. Syst. 13: 579-618 - get paper here
  • Tornier, G. 1901. Die Reptilien und Amphibien der Deutschen Tiefseeexpedition 1898/99. Zool. Anz. 24:61—66 - get paper here
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