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Paracontias fasika KÖHLER, VENCES, ERBACHER & GLAW, 2010

IUCN Red List - Paracontias fasika - Critically Endangered, CR

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Common Names 
SynonymParacontias fasika KÖHLER, VENCES, ERBACHER & GLAW 2010
Paracontias hildebrandti — GLAW & VENCES 2007: 351 

Type locality: Baie de Sakalava, 12°16′24″ S, 49°23′33″ E, 11 m a.s.l., Forêt d’Orangea, Antsiranana Province, northern Madagascar.  
TypesHolotype: ZSM 2256/2007; field number FGZC 1347); male (Figs. 5 and 6); collected on 10 March 2007 by H. Enting, F. Glaw, J. Köhler, and local collectors. 
CommentDiagnosis: A member of Paracontias according to the molecular phylogeny based on nuclear and mitochondrial genes by Crottini et al. (2009). Paracontias fasika n. sp. differs from the sympatric limbless P. minimus by smaller body size, lower number of scale rows around mid-body (16 versus 18), lower number of ventral scales (71 versus 102–112), head shape, head scalation, presence of an eye opening, presence of a nasal scale, and by the position of the nostril. The new species differs from all known species of Paracontias with an eye opening by a lower number of scale rows around mid-body, except from the sympatric P. rothschildi, which also has 16 rows and shares with the new species a broad middorsal stripe contrasting with the darker colour of the flanks. However, the new species differs from P. rothschildi by a lower number of ventral scales (71 versus 89–104), an hourglass-shaped frontal (vs. bellshaped), 5 supralabials (4), 5 infralabials (4), a relatively smaller rostral scale, the nasal scale being in contact with the first supralabial and loreal (first supralabial only), and by a broad, brown mid-dorsal stripe (beige to grey). From limbless species of Voeltzkowia (V. lineata, V. mira, V. rubrocaudata), the new species mainly differs by a lower number of scale rows around mid-body (16 versus 18–20), presence of eyes, colouration and head scalation. From the limbless species of Pseudoacontias (P. madagascariensis, P. unicolor, P. menamainty), the new species mainly differs by much smaller size and lower number of scale rows around mid-body (16 versus 25–32). The head scalation of P. fasika is generally similar to that of the limbless Amphiglossus stylus. However, the new species mainly differs from the latter by a lower number of scale rows around mid-body (16 versus 20), and by the lack of indications of the former limb positions (minute clawless nubs present in A. stylus) [KÖHLER et al. 2010].

Contrary to what is written in its original diagnosis, the holotype of Paracontias fasika has no supranasals. In the dorsal view of the head (Köhler et al. 2010: 154, Fig. 5a), the two scales in contact with the nostrils, the rostral and the frontonasals are actually loreals. On the lateral view of the head (Fig. 5b), the shape and the size of the loreal scales have been incorrectly represented. These scales would have been drawn in frank contact with the rostral, as it has been correctly done in the Fig. 6a. In the same figure, the fourth reduced supraocular is lacking, only the last enlarged supraciliaries being repre- sented. The dorsal view (Fig. 5a) gives a correct represen- tation of these scales [from MIRALLES et al. 2011].

Abundance: only known from the type specimen (Meiri et al. 2017). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is formed from the Malagasy word “fasika”, meaning sand, and refers to the sand-dwelling habits of the new species occurring on sandy soils of Forêt d’Orangea. Due to its etymological derivation, the epithet is to be retained in its original spelling under all nomenclatural circumstances. 
  • Köhler, J.; Vences, M.; Erbacher, M. & Glaw, F. 2010. Systematics of limbless scincid lizards from northern Madagascar: morphology, phylogenetic relationships and implications for classification (Squamata: Scincidae). Org Divers Evol 10:147–159
  • 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, Aurélien; Köhler, Jörn; Vieites, David R. 2011. Hypotheses on rostral shield evolution in fossorial lizards derived from the phylogenetic position of a new species of Paracontias (Squamata, Scincidae). Organisms Diversity & Evolution 11: 135-15 - get paper here
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