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Mochlus sundevallii (SMITH, 1849)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Lygosominae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Common NamesSundevall’s Writhing Skink
E: Peters' Eyelid Skink, Peters’ Writhing Skink afer]
G: Mosambik-Schlankskink [afer] 
SynonymEumices (Riopa) sunderallii SMITH 1849: 11
Eumeces afer PETERS 1854: 619
Eumeces reticulatus PETERS 1862: 23
Mochlus punctulatus GÜNTHER 1864: 308 (fide BROADLEY & HOWELL)
Mochlus punctatus GÜNTHER 1864 (fide SCHMIDT 1919: 561)
Mochlus afer — BOCAGE 1867
Eumeces perdicicolor COPE 1868: 317 (fide BROADLEY & HOWELL)
Eumeces perdicilor COPE1868 (fide SCHMIDT 1919)
Euprepes (Senira) Dumerili STEINDACHNER 1870: 341 (fide B & H 1991)
Sepacontias modestus GÜNTHER 1880: 235 (fide BROADLEY & HOWELL)
Lygosoma modestum — BOULENGER 1895: 168
Sepacontias modestus — GÜNTHER 1895: 526
Lygosoma sphenopiforme BOULENGER 1909
Lygosoma laeviceps var. modestum — STERNFELD 1912 (fide BROADLEY 1998)
Lygosoma sundevalli — CALABRESI 1915: 244
Lygosoma sundevalli — SCHMIDT 1919: 561 (fide BROADLEY 1998)
Lygosoma sundevallii — LOVERIDGE 1920: 155
Lygosoma sundevallii — SCORTECCI 1929: 265
Riopa sundevalli — SMITH 1937: 228
Riopa modesta modesta — MERTENS 1938
Riopa laeviceps — PARKER 1942: 89 (?)
Mochlus sundevalli — MITTLEMAN 1952: 31
Lygosoma sundevalli — GREER 1977
Lygosoma sphenopiforme — GREER et al. 1985: 367
Lygosoma afer — GREER et al 1985
Lygosoma sundevalli sundevalli — AUERBACH 1987: 114
Lygosoma sundevalli modestum — LANZA 1988
Lygosoma sundevalli sundevalli — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 16
Lygosoma afer — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 16
Lygosoma sundevalli — BOYCOTT 1992
Eumeces afer — FRANK & RAMUS 1995
Lygosoma afrum — BROADLEY 1998
Lygosoma sundevalli — BROADLEY 1998
Mochlus sundevalli — SCHMITZ 1999 (pers. comm.)
Lygosoma afrum — LARGEN & SPWLS 2006: 66
Mochlus afer — WAGNER et al. 2009
Mochlus sundevalli — WAGNER et al. 2009
Lygosoma sundevalli — JACOBSEN et al. 2010
Lygosoma afrum — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 375
Lygosoma sundevalli — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 381
Mochlus sundevalli sundevalli — BATES et al. 2014: 259
Mochlus afer — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 150
Mochlus sundevalli — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 151
Mochlus sundevallii — FREITAS et al. 2019 
DistributionNamibia (southern limit in Kalahari Gemsbok National Park), Botswana, Zimbabwe, NE Republic of South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, S Angola, S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, probably S Sudan (Spawls & al. 2004)

Type locality: Country eastward of Cape Colony [?]
Type locality: Mpwapwa, Ugogo, Tanzania [Sepacontias modestus]
Type locality: “Otjimbingue” [Otjimbingwe, Erongo Region Namibia] (Eumeces reticulatus)

afer: Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique (southern limit at Inhambane), Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, E Zambia, Malawi, N/E/S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Central African Republic

Type locality: Mozambique island; restricted by Broadley 1966
Type locality: Zambesi [Mochlus punctulatus]
Type locality: Zanzibar Island [Eumeces perdicicolor]
Type locality: Zanzibar Island [Euprepes (Senira) Dumerili]  
TypesSyntypes: BMNH 1946.8.10.85, ZISP 688
Syntypes: ZMB, ZISP 687, BM 1865.6.12.11, MNHN 1469 (Brygoo 1985); ZMB 1215, ZMB 9400, 9401 (four specimens), 9402, 9403 (two specimens) fide Barabanov & Milto 2017 [afer]
Holotype: MSNG 27889 [sphenopiforme] 
DiagnosisM. afer was said to be distinguishable from L. s. sundevalli by its large size (snout-vent length 80-140 mm) and speckled dorsum.

Mittleman (1952) differentiated the genus Mochlus from Lygosoma in having a well defined ear opening and from Riopa in lacking a transparent disc in the lower eyelid. However, Broadley (1966) did not find any “clear divergence in adaptive
trends” and therefore regarded Mochlus as a synonym of Riopa, placing all African Mochlus species back into the genus Riopa. Greer (1977) regarded both
Mochlus and Riopa as synonyms of Lygosoma and accordingly placed them back into the genus Lygosoma. 
CommentSynonymy: Partly after Freitas et al. 2018. Boulenger (1896) thought that Sepacontias modestus (GÜNTHER 1880) represents the adult form of Lygosoma laeviceps (PETERS 1874) which he thought were juveniles. Parker (1942: 90) suspected that sphenopiforme is an aberrant form of “typical southern modesta”. Freitas et al. 2018 found that M. afer is indistinguishable from M. sundevalli when large samples across their ranges are compared morphologically and genetically. They suggested to synonymize the two, at least for the time being.

Type species: Mochlus punctulatus GÜNTHER 1864 (= Eumeces afer PETERS 1854) is the type species of the genus Mochlus GÜNTHER 1864. 
EtymologyWhile no derivation was given for Mochlus, the type species, by monotypy, was given by Gunther as punctulatus (masculine), hence we treat all species names within Mochlus as masculine. 
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