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Oligosoma hoparatea WHITAKER, CHAPPLE, HITCHMOUGH, LETTINK & PATTERSON, 2018

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Eugongylinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: White-bellied Skink, Pukuma skink 
SynonymOligosoma hoparatea WHITAKER, CHAPPLE, HITCHMOUGH, LETTINK & PATTERSON 2018
Oligosoma aff. longipes "Rangitata” — HITCHMOUGH et al. 2007 
DistributionNew Zealand (Mt Harper)

Type locality: Mt Harper, Harper Range, Rangitata River, Canterbury, New Zealand; 43° 38' 16.5"S, 171° 03' 50.1"E; 1050 m elevation.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: NMNZ RE008536 (adult female); collected A.H. Whitaker, 26 February 2004. Paratypes (2 specimens). NMNZ RE008537; adult male/female; same collection data as holotype. NMNZ RE008538 (sub-adult); same locality data as holotype; collected T.R. Jewell, 8 October 2007. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Oligosoma hoparatea sp. nov. can be distinguished from other Oligosoma species by the following combination of characters: (a) interrupted subocular scale row; (b) mid-body scale rows >38; (c) fourth toe lamellae >25; (d) a body colouration consisting of prominent brown longitudinal stripes; (e) uniformly white ventral surface; and (f) white lateral stripe passing through the ear. It is most similar to Oligosoma longipes, which is its closest relative (Chapple et al. 2009) and with which it occurs syntopically (Chapple and Hitchmough 2016). These two species can be further distinguished by: (a) the presence of a darker mid-dorsal stripe in most O. hoparatea sp. nov. versus usually absent in O. longipes, (b) the dorsal surface without flecks or blotches in O. hoparatea sp. nov. versus well marked with darker flecks in O. longipes, (c) lateral stripes and bands smooth edged in O. hoparatea sp. nov. versus notched in O. longipes, (d) always two or more nuchal scales in O. hoparatea sp. nov. compared with usually one or fewer in O. longipes; (e) ventral surface uniformly white or cream in O. hoparatea sp. nov. versus white or greyish, often with some dark flecking in O. longipes, (f) series of enlarged scales on top of the front foot in line with the toes in O. hoparatea sp. nov. versus scales of diminishing size in O. longipes, and (g) enlarged precloacal scales wider than deep in O. hoparatea sp. nov. versus enlarged precloacal scales much deeper than wide in O. longipes. 
CommentNote: the three type specimens are the only specimens currently known in research collections. Other live specimens were examined by the late AHW in the field. 
EtymologyThe specific name is from the Maori “hōpara”, meaning belly or underside, and “tea”, meaning white, thus hōparatea or ‘white-bellied’ in reference to the uniquely uniform white ventral surface of many specimens of this skink. After consultation with the wider herpetological community, the Society for Research on Amphibians and Reptiles in New Zealand (SRARNZ) and the Department of Conservation revised the common name nomenclature for New Zealand reptiles in 2014. Here O. hoparatea sp. nov. was called the “Pukuma” skink. The common name, White-bellied Skink, aligns with the wishes of the deceased author, AHW. 
References
  • Hitchmough, R., Bull, L. & Cromarty, P. 2007. New Zealand Threat Classification System lists—2005. Department of Conservation, Wellington, 194 pp
  • van Winkel, D., Baling, M. & Hitchmough, R. 2018. Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand: A field guide. Auckland University Press, Auckland, 376 pp
  • WHITAKER, TONY; DAVID G. CHAPPLE, RODNEY A. HITCHMOUGH, MARIEKE LETTINK, GEOFF B. PATTERSON 2018. A new species of scincid lizard in the genus Oligosoma (Reptilia: Scincidae) from the mid-Canterbury high country, New Zealand. Zootaxa 4377 (2): 269-279 - get paper here
 
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