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Parvoscincus tagapayo (BROWN, MCGUIRE, FERNER & ALCALA, 1999)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Sphenomorphini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Aurora mountain skink 
SynonymSphenomorphus tagapayo BROWN et al. 1999
Parvoscincus tagapayo — LINKEM, DIESMOS & BROWN 2011 
DistributionPhilippines (SE Luzon, Aurora Province)

Type locality: at 1050 m elevation on the south-facing slope of Mt. Ma-aling-aling, (15°39’6”N, 121°21’7”E), Kabatangan River drainage, Aurora National Park, 1.2 km south, 1.2 km east of Barangay Villa Aurora, Municipalityof San Luis, Aurora Province, Luzon Island, Republic of the Philippines.  
Reproductionoviparous (not imputed, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: PNM 5767; other specimens: CMNH (Cincinnati Museum of Natural History) 
DiagnosisDiagnosis:-Sphenomorphus tagapayo is distin guished from S. lawtoni and S. luzonensis by its smaller body size (Tables 1-2) and differs from S. lawtoni, S. atrigularis, S. steerei, and S. biparie talis by the presence of a scale-covered (vs na ked) tympanum. In addition to its smaller size, the new species differs from S. luzonensis (SVL 39.9-47.8) by the presence of 61-65 paraverte brals (vs 65-73) and nearly solid dark brown dorsal coloration (vs light brown with darker dorsolateral stripes). Sphenomorphus tagapayo fur ther differs from S. atrigularis by the presence of 61-65 (vs 52-59 paravertebrals, solid nuchal coloration (vs distinctive inverted V-shaped nu chal marking) and the absence (vs presence) of dorsolateral stripes; from S. biparietalis by the presence of unfused (vs fused) loreals, transversely elongate (vs square) parietals, and a sin gle (vs paired) frontoparietal; from S. lawtoni by 9-11 fourth toe subdigital lamellae (vs 13-15), smaller body size (Table 1), and nearly solid dark brown coloration (vs dorsolateral and ver tebral dark stripes or spot rows); from S. steerei by variation in prefrontal contact (vs invariably contacting) and nearly solid dark brown color ation (vs dorsolateral dark stripes or spot rows). Sphenomorphus tagapayo differs from Parvoscin cus sisoni and P. palawanensis (Table 1) by the single (vs paired) frontoparietal, two rows of al ternately overlapping (vs a single median) su pradigital scale rows, the presence of two (vs one) oviducts, a brood size of two (vs one), and an upper row of small lower eyelid scales (vs columnar scales, covering the upper half of the lower eyelid). The new species further differs from P. palawanensis by the presence (vs ab sence) of prefrontals, the presence of two lo reals (vs single), the presence of 28-30 (vs 22 24) midbody scale rows, the presence of 61-65 (vs 48-54) paravertebrals, the presence of 6 (vs 5) infralabials and color pattern (P. palawanensis has a pair of dorsolateral light lines, and P. ta gapayo has a faint dark vertebral stripe). It fur ther differs from P. sisoni by occasional (one of six specimens) contact between prefrontals, a greater number of midbody scales (P. sisoni = 24-26), and a faint dark vertebral stripe. (Brown et al. 1999)

Comparisons. To facilitate identification of the new species, it should be noted that the only other diminutive Philippine scincids lacking an exposed tympanum are Lipinia quadrivittata and L. subvittata,Sphenomorphus luzonensis, and both species in the recently described genus Parvoscincus(P.sisoniand P.palawanensis).Lipinia species differ from Group II Sphenomorphus (including the new species) and Parvoscincus species by transversely expanded subdigital lamellae (vs nonexpanded), greatly enlarged (vs undifferentiated) vertebrals, wide and distinct longitudinal middorsal stripes of alternating colors (vs dorsolateral or vertebral stripes, absent, thin, or faint), a transparent lower eyelid disk (vs lower eyelid scaly), and arboreal (vs semifossorial) habits. Further differences are provided by Brown and Alcala (1980) and Ferner et al. (1997). Brown and Alcala (1980) distinguished the Philippine Group I Sphenomorphus from the re maining Philippine Sphenomorphus on the basis of small body size and lower lamellar, paraver tebral, and midbody scale counts exhibited by S. atrigularis, S. steerei, S. luzonensis, S. biparietalis, S. lawtoni, and S. (Parvoscincus) palawanensis. Sphenomorphus tagapayo appears most closely re lated to these taxa on the basis of Brown and Alcala's (1980) characters (Table 1). It should be noted that the only other Group II species known from the same island as S. tagapayo (Lu zon) are S. luzonensis, S. lawtoni (both much larger species; Table 1) and S. steerei (easily di agnosed by the presence of an exposed tympa num). The new species differs from Parvoscincus by occasional contact (1 of 6 specimens) between prefrontals, by a slightly higher midbody scale count (Table 1), the presence of two (vs one) oviducts, a brood size of two (vs one), the pres ence of small lower eyelid scales along the up per edge (vs columnar scales spanning upper half of lower eyelid), and by the arrangement of supradigital scales. Nevertheless, their ecolog ical similarities and the shared presence of the following putatively derived (Ferner et al., 1997) character states, all point to a possible common ancestor with the species included in Parvoscincus: very small size, high elevation semifossorial ecology, dorsal coloration nearly solid dark brown, tympanum covered by scales. A robust phylogenetic estimate including Philippines species of Parvoscincus and Spheno morphus has not been conducted. Our assign ment of this new species to Sphenomorphus should be viewed as tentative at this time, pend ing a thorough phylogenetic investigation of Sphenomorphus, Parvoscincus, and closely related lygosomines. (Brown et al. 1999) 
EtymologyNamed after the tagalog “tagapayo”, meaning a wise and trusted friend, advisor, or mentor, and referring to Walter C. Brown (1913-2002), a herpetologist who specialized in the herpetofauna of the South Pacific and the Philippines. He received his doctorate from Stanford (1955) and went to Silliman University, Philippines, as a Fulbright Professor of Sciences. 
  • Brown, R.M. et al. 2010. Species boundaries in Philippine montane forest skinks (Genus Sphenomorphus): three new species from the mountains of Luzon and clarification of the status of the poorly known S. beyeri, S. knollmanae, and S. laterimaculatus. Scient. Pap. Nat. Hist. Mus. Univ. Kansas (42): 1-27
  • Brown, R.M.; McGuire, J.A.; Ferner,J.W.; Icarangal Jr., N. & Kennedy, R.S. 2000. Amphibians and reptiles of Luzon island, II: preliminary report on the herptofauna of Aurora Memorial national Park, Philippines. Hamadryad 25 (2): 175-195 - get paper here
  • Brown, Rafe M., Jimmy A. McGuire, John W. Ferner and Angel C. Alcala 1999. New species of diminutive scincid lizard (Squamata: Lygosominae: Sphenomorphus) from Luzon Island, Republic of the Philippines. Copeia 1999 (2): 362-370 - get paper here
  • Brown; Rafe; Cameron Siler, Carl Oliveros, Luke Welton, Ashley Rock, John Swab, Merlijn Van Weerd, Jonah van Beijnen, Dominic Rodriguez, Edmund Jose, Arvin Diesmos 2013. The amphibians and reptiles of Luzon Island, Philippines, VIII: the herpetofauna of Cagayan and Isabela Provinces, northern Sierra Madre Mountain Range. ZooKeys 266 (2013) Special Issue: 1-120<br />doi: 10.3897/zookeys.266.3982 - get paper here
  • Gojo-Cruz, Paul Henric P. and Leticia E. Afuang 2018. The Zoogeographic Significance of Caraballo Mountain Range, Luzon Island, Philippines With Focus on the Biogeography of Luzon’s Herpetofauna. Philippine Journal of Science 147 (3): 393-409 - get paper here
  • Linkem, Charles W.; Arvin C. Diesmos, Rafe M. Brown 2011. Molecular systematics of the Philippine forest skinks (Squamata: Scincidae: Sphenomorphus): testing morphological hypotheses of interspecific relationships. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 163: 1217–1243 - 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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