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Paracontias minimus (MOCQUARD, 1906)

IUCN Red List - Paracontias minimus - Critically Endangered, CR

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymCryptoposcincus minimus MOCQUARD 1906
Cryptoposcincus minimus — ANGEL 1942: 146
Cryptoscincus minimus — BRYGOO 1981: 684 (in error)
Cryptoscincus minimus — GLAW & VENCES 1994: 323 (in error)
Cryptoscincus minimus — SCHMITZ et al. 2005
Paracontias minimus — CROTTINI et al. 2009 
DistributionN Madagascar (Antsiranana Province)

Type locality: “Madagascar”

Localities in KÖHLER et al. 2010: (1) Baie de Sakalava, Forêt d’Orangea, 12°16′24″ S, 49°23′33″ E; (2) south-east of Ivovona, Forêt d’Orangea, 12°19′58″ S, 49°24′20″ E; and (3) Ampombofofo, Babaomby region, 12°05′53″ S, 49°19′ 49″ E.  
Reproductionoviparous (not imputed, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesLectotype: MNHN-RA 1905.0270; Paralectotype: MNHN-RA 1905.0270A. Designation by Brygoo (1981); other specimens: ZFMK 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A member of Paracontias according to the molecular phylogeny based on nuclear and mitochondrial genes by Crottini et al. (2009). Paracontias minimus differs from most sympatric limbless members of the genus by the number of scale rows around mid-body being 18 (vs. 16 in P. fasika n. sp., P. rothschildi; 20 in P. hafa Andreone & Greer, P. hildebrandti (Peters); 21 in P. tsararano Andreone & Greer; 22 in P. manify Andreone & Greer; 26 in P. brocchii Mocquard; 30 in P. holomelas (Günther)); only P. milloti Angel also exhibits 18 scale rows. However, all other Paracontias species have an eye opening and differ in head scalation, particularly in shape of rostral and position of nostril. For separation from P. fasika n. sp., see the diagnosis for the latter species below. Paracontias minimus differs from the only known limbless species of Amphiglossus Duméril & Bibron, A. stylus Andreone & Greer, mainly by the lower number of scale rows around mid-body (18 versus 20), large differences in head scalation, and by lack of indication of the former limb positions (minute clawless nubs present in A. stylus). Furthermore, the eye opening is absent in P. minimus (present in all known Amphiglossus species). From the limbless species of Pseudoacontias Barboza du Bocage (P. madagascariensis, P. unicolor, P. menamainty), P. minimus differs by the lack of an eye opening, fewer scales on head, distinctly smaller SVL, and lower number of scale rows around mid-body (32 in P. madagascariensis Bocage, 30 in P. unicolor Sakata & Hikida, 25 in P. menamainty Andreone & Greer). Sirenoscincus yamagishii Sakata & Hikida is similar in size and also has reduced eyes, but forelimbs are present. Colouration, size, lack of an eye opening and natural habits in P. minimus superficially resemble species of Voeltzkowia from western Madagascar. Among the known species of Voeltzkowia, only V. lineata (Mocquard), V. mira Boettger and V. rubrocaudata (Grandidier) are completely lacking limbs (rudimentary hindlimbs are present in the remaining species). These three species can share with C. minimus 18 scale rows around mid-body, but differ in head scalation, namely the presence of a nasal and supranasal scale (both absent in P. minimus) [from KÖHLER et al. 2010]. 
CommentEyeless, earless,

Limb morphology: limbless species!

Only known from the two type specimens.

Type Species: Cryptoposcincus minimus is the type species of the genus Cryptoscincus minimus MOCQUARD 1894. 
  • Angel, F. 1942. Les Lézards de Madagascar. Mem. Acad. Malagache, Tananarive XXXVI: 193 pp.
  • Brygoo,E.R. 1981. Systématique des lézards scincides de la région malgache. VII. Révision des genres Voeltzkowia Boettger 1893, Grandidierina Mocquard 1894, et Cryptoscincus Mocquard 1894. Bull. Mus. natl. Hist. nat. Paris, 4th ser., Sect. A., 3 (2): 675-688
  • Crottini, Angelica; Janina Dordel, Jörn Köhler, Frank Glaw, Andreas Schmitz, Miguel Vences 2009. A multilocus phylogeny of Malagasy scincid lizards elucidates the relationships of the fossorial genera Androngo and Cryptoscincus. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 53 (1): 345-350 - get paper here
  • Glaw ,F. & Vences, M. 1994. A Fieldguide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Vences & Glaw Verlag, Köln (ISBN 3-929449-01-3)
  • 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 - get paper here
  • Köhler, J.; Vieites, D.R.; Glaw, F.; Kaffenberger, N. & Vences, M. 2009. A further new species of limbless skink, genus Paracontias, from eastern Madagascar. African Journal of Herpetology 58 (2): 98-105 - get paper here
  • Mocquard 1906. Description de quelques reptiles et d’un batracien d’espèces nouvelles. Bull. Mus. natn. Hist. nat. Paris 12: 247-253 - get paper here
  • Randriamialisoa, Andriantsimanarilafy RR, Rakotondrina AJV, Rakotoarisoa JA, Nasaina RT, Rabearivony J, Raselimanana AP. 2023. Overview of Reptile Diversity from Bobaomby Complex, Northern Tip of Madagascar. . Animals 13 (21): 3396 - get paper here
  • Sakata, Shuichi & Hikida, Tsutomu 2003. A fossorial lizard with forelimbs only: description of a new genus and species of Malagasy skink (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae). Current Herpetology 22 (1): 9-15 - get paper here
  • Schmitz, A.; M.C. Brandley; P. Mausfeld; M. Vences; F. Glaw; R.A. Nussbaum and T.W. Reeder 2005. Opening the black box: phylogenetics and morphological evolution of the Malagasy fossorial lizards of the subfamily “Scincinae”. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34: 118–133 (published online 2004) - get paper here
  • Wegener, J.E., Swoboda, S., Hawlitschek, O., Franzen, M., Wallach, V., Vences, M., Nagy, T., Hedges, S.B., Köhler, J. & Glaw, F. 2013. Morphological variation and taxonomic reassessment of the endemic Malagasy blind snake family Xenotyphlopidae (Serpentes, Scolecophidia). Spixiana, 36: 269–282 - get paper here
  • Ziegler, Thomas; Joel Kamphausen, Frank Glaw, Angelica Crot- tini,, Gerardo Garcia, Dennis Rödder, Anna Rauhaus, Lilli Sten- ger & Anna Wahle 2022. Threatened Malagasy amphibians and reptiles in zoos – a call for enhanced implementation of the IUCN’s One Plan Approach Zool. Garten N.F. 90: 21-69 - get paper here
  • Zimin, A., Zimin, S. V., Shine, R., Avila, L., Bauer, A., Böhm, M., Brown, R., Barki, G., de Oliveira Caetano, G. H., Castro Herrera, F., Chapple, D. G., Chirio, L., Colli, G. R., Doan, T. M., Glaw, F., Grismer, L. L., Itescu, Y., Kraus, F., LeBreton 2022. A global analysis of viviparity in squamates highlights its prevalence in cold climates. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 00, 1–16 - get paper here
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