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Oligosoma awakopaka JEWELL, 2017

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Eugongylinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesAwakopaka skink 
SynonymOligosoma awakopaka JEWELL 2017 
DistributionNew Zealand (Fiordland National Park)

Type locality: Homer Saddle, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. Grid reference E2113025 N5593084. 1,200m elevation.  
Reproductionviviparous 
TypesHolotype: NMNZ RE.007421 (Te Papa Tongarewa/Museum of New Zealand) 
CommentThis species was illustrated by Jewell 2015: 46 and called Awakopaka skink but only formally described in 2017.

Diagnosis: The holotype specimen can be distinguished from all other Oligosoma species by the following traits: subocular scale row interrupted by a supralabial (cf a continuous series in aeneum, alani, levidensum, macgregori, oliveri, ornatum, roimata, townsi and whitakeri); 29 mid-body scale rows (cf 32 or more in acrinasum, fallai, grande, judgei, microlepis, longipes, otagense, pikitanga, smithi, taumakae and waimatense,); iris black (cf light to dark brown, reddish, pale green or bluish in burganae, hardyi, homalonotum, infra- punctatum, lichenigerum, maccanni, nigriplantare, notosaurus, polychroma, repens, stenotis, striatum, tekakahu, toka and zelandicum); ventral scale rows 78 (cf 90-111 in suteri), 2 prosubocular scales and belly bright yellow (cf 3 prosuboculars in chloronoton and belly grey to red in lineoocellatum and chloronoton); 2 primary temporal scales and intact tail 1.1 x SVL (cf 1 primary temporal and intact tail 1.6 x SVL in moco).

Habitat: Saxicolous. The type locality (Figure 5, 6 a & b in Jewell 2017) is distinctly alpine in nature. It has a few diminutive shrubs (Coprosma spp. and Dracophyllum spp.) restricted to sheltered depressions. However, much of the vegetation is made up of grasses and herbs. Large expanses of ground in close vicinity are kept in an open and sparsely vegetated state by regular avalanche and rock-fall activity, or due to the deep nature of the boulder piles that have accumulated, but the exact site where the skink was found is more stable.

Sympatry: Mokopirirakau sp., O. judgei. 
EtymologyThe Maori verb ‘awakopaka’ means ‘glacier’ and is applied with the intended meaning of ‘the skink that lives in the footprints of mighty glaciers’. This meaning reflects the discovery and occurrence of the new species deep in Fiordland, a landscape of dramatic U-shaped valleys and deep Fjords that were carved out by glacial activity during the Pleistocene Epoch. 
References
  • JEWELL, TONY 2015. New skink species found in Fiordland. BioGecko (3): 46
  • JEWELL, TONY R. 2017. Oligosoma awakopaka n. sp. (Reptilia: Scincidae) from Fiordland National Park, NZ BioGecko (4): 4-19
 
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