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Paracontias ampijoroensis MIRALLES, JONO, MORI, GANDOLA, ERENS, KÖHLER, GLAW & VENCES, 2016

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymParacontias ampijoroensis MIRALLES, JONO, MORI, GANDOLA, ERENS, KÖHLER, GLAW & VENCES 2016 
DistributionMadagascar (Mahajanga)

Type locality: Ampijoroa, Ankarafantsika National Park, Mahajanga Province, Madagascar, 16°190 00.9′′S, 46°48022.4′′E, 153 m elevation  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: KUZ R069565 (field number AMP2012-parabr), adult, collected on 24 January 2012, by H. R. Maheritafika.
Paratypes. KUZ R069566 (AMP2012-093), adult, from a locality very close to the type locality, 16°19003.1′′S, 46°48040.7′′E, 148 m above sea level, collected on 16 Jan- uary 2012, by H. R. Maheritafika. KUZ R069567 (AMP2012-parawh), adult, from a locality very close to the type locality, 16°180 52.4′′S, 46°490 05.5′′E, 89 m above sea level, collected on 2 February 2012, by R. Ito. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Small brownish apodous scincine species of the genus Paracontias, as revealed by DNA sequence analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear genes, and by the absence of legs and of distinct supranasals and postnasals, the main morphological synapomorphies that in combination differentiate the genus from other Malagasy scincines.
As a member of the ‘kankana clade’ (together with P. kankana and the second new species from Mahamavo), P. ampijoroensis sp. nov. differs from the other clade of Paracontias by the presence of large loreals (likely resulting from the fusion of loreals with supranasals) extending and meeting each other at dorsal midline (vs. small loreal separated from each other by the rostral and the frontonasal in P. fasika, P. hafa, P. hildebrandti, P. holomelas, P. manify, P. minimus, P. rothschildi, P. tsararano, P. vermisaurus, or loreals absent [likely fused with the frontonasal] in P. milloti).
Within the ‘kankana clade’, Paracontias ampijoroensis can also be differentiated from the two other species by the number of enlarged nuchals (two pairs vs. absence in P. kankana and one pair in the second new species from Mahamavo), the shape of the frontonasal (pentagonal vs. triangular in the new species from Mahamavo), and the number of scale rows around midbody (16 vs. 21 in kankana and 18 in the new species from Mahamavo), see Table 1 and Fig. S3 in MIRALLES et al. 2016.
 
CommentHabitat: dry deciduous forest where the vegetation consists of a deciduous canopy and fairly sparce understory surrounded by savanna and agricultural land (Mori et al. 2006). The forest floor was covered by whitish sand with some leaf litter.

Abundance: only known from its original description (Meiri et al. 2017). 
EtymologyEtymology. The specific epithet ampijoroensis is an adjective, derived from Ampijoroa, where this species was collected (the last vowel of the locality name having been removed for euphonic reasons). 
References
  • Meiri, Shai; Aaron M. Bauer, Allen Allison, Fernando Castro-Herrera, Laurent Chirio, Guarino Colli, Indraneil Das, Tiffany M. Doan, Frank Glaw, Lee L. Grismer, Marinus Hoogmoed, Fred Kraus, Matthew LeBreton, Danny Meirte, Zoltán T. Nagy, Cristiano d 2017. Extinct, obscure or imaginary: the lizard species with the smallest ranges. Diversity and Distributions - get paper here
  • Miralles A., Jono T., Mori A., Gandola R., Erens J., Köhler J., Glaw F., Vences M. 2016. A new perspective on the reduction of cephalic scales in fossorial legless skinks (Squamata, Scincidae) Zoologica Scripta doi:10.1111/zsc.12164 - get paper here
  • Mori, A., Hasegawa, M. & Ikeuchi, I. 2006. Herpetofauna of Ampijoroa, Ankarafantsika Strict Nature Reserve, a dry forest in northwestern Madagascar. Herpetological Natural History 10: 31– 60
 
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