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Plestiodon laticeps (SCHNEIDER, 1801)

IUCN Red List - Plestiodon laticeps - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Broadhead Skink 
SynonymScincus laticeps SCHNEIDER 1801: 189
Sclncus erythrocephalus GILLIAMS 1818: 461 (fide COOPER 1988)
Scincus bicolor HARLAN 1824
Scincus americanus HARLAN 1835: 138
Plestiodon laticeps — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1839: 705
Eumeces laticeps — PETERS 1864: 49
Eumeces polygrammus COPE 1900: 637
Eumeces laticeps — TAYLOR 1932: 263
Eumeces laticeps — TAYLOR 1936: 212
Eumeces laticeps — KAHL et al. 1980: 175
Eumeces laticeps — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 130
Eumeces laticeps — GRIFFITH, NGO & MURPHY 2000
Eumeces laticeps — WHITING et al. 2003
Plestiodon laticeps — SCHMITZ et al. 2004
Eumeces laticeps — COOPER 2005
Eumeces laticeps — JENSEN et al. 2008: 315
Plestiodon laticeps — COLLINS & TAGGART 2009
Plestiodon laticeps — BÖHME 2014: 155 
DistributionUSA (E Texas,E Oklahoma, S/C Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, S Illinois, S Indiana, Kansas, S Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, N Florida)

Type locality: unknown, restricted to Charleston, South Carolina by Schmidt (1953).  
TypesLectotype: ZFMK 26867; type unlocated fide TAYLOR 1936: 28; lost fide Cooper 1988 (formerly in the Museum of Göttingen, Germany)
Holotype: USNM 4156 [polygrammus]
Holotype: lost, fide Cooper 1988 [americanus]
Holotype: lost, fide Cooper 1988 [erythrocephalus] 
DiagnosisDefinition and Diagnosis: A large (adults 82-143 mm snout vent-length) Eumeces of the fasciatus species group (sensu Taylor, 1935), distinguished by the following combination of characteristics: five supralabials anterior to subocular on each side, or four on one side and five on the other; usually 30 or 32 dorsal scale rows; median row of subcaudals distinctly larger than lateral rows; five or seven light longitudinal stripes in hatchlings; no enlarged postlabials; dorsolateral light stripe involving the fourth, or third and fourth scale rows. Hatchlings (ca. 27-30 mm SVL) have bright blue tails. The ground color is black anteriorly with longitudinal light stripes on the dorsal and lateral surfaces. These are often intensely orange, especially on the head. The median dorsal stripe bifurcates on the nuchal with branches extending to the frontonuchal. The blue tail coloration gradually fades to gray and then to tan with age. The black ground coloration fades to brown in juveniles and finally to tan in adult males and old adult females. The stripes also fade gradually, but females retain stripes longer than males. The head of adult males is larger than that of females of the same size; it becomes bright orange during the breeding season, and fades to tan at other times. (Cooper 1988)

Sexual dimorphism: P. laticeps is sexually dimorphic and the color and pattern change from neonates to adults so that many names have been applied to this species. 
CommentSynonymy: mostly after Cooper 1988.

Similar species: P. laticeps was long confused with P. fasciatus and P. inexpectatus. Distinguishing the three sibling species requires careful examination and comparison of specimens. The three species were frequently lumped in the literature before Taylor's (1932) re-establishmentof E. laticeps as a distinct species. Subsequent investigations have confirmed Taylor's separation of the forms (Davis, 1969; Murphy et al., 1983); the nomenclature has been stable for over half a century and is not now controversial. Taylor (1935) provides a detailed history of the many nomenclatural shifts within the taxon (Cooper 1988). 
EtymologyThe name laticeps, meaning "wide-headed" is compounded from the Greek kephale (= head), and the Latin latus (= wide). 
  • Akeret, B. 2009. Unter und über Wasser durch die Karstgewässer Floridas. Draco 10 (37): 24-29 - get paper here
  • Anderson, Paul 1950. The greater five-lined skink, Eumeces laticeps (Schneider), in Kansas. Herpetologica 6: 53 - get paper here
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  • Cooper, W.E., Jr. 1997. Factors affecting risk and cost of escape by the broad-headed skink (Eumeces laticeps): predator speed, directness of approach, and female presence Herpetologica 53 (4): 464-474. - get paper here
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  • Cooper, W.E., Jr. & L.J. Vitt 1988. Orange head coloration of the male broad-headed skink (Eumeces laticeps), a sexually selected social cue Copeia 1988 (1): 1-6. - get paper here
  • Cooper, W.E., Jr. & L.J. Vitt 1997. Maximizing male reproductive success in the broad-headed skink (Eumeces laticeps): preliminary evidence for mate guarding, size-assortative pairing, and opportunistic extra-pair mating Amphibia-Reptilia, 18(1): 59-73. - get paper here
  • Cooper, W.E., Jr. & W.R. Garstka 1987. Aggregation in the Broad-Headed Skink (Eumeces laticeps) Copeia 1987 (3): 807-810. - get paper here
  • Cooper, W.E., Jr., M.T. Mendonca & L.J. Vitt 1987. Induction of Orange Head Coloration and Activation of Courtship and Aggresssion by Testosterone in the Male Broad-headed Skink (Eumeces laticeps) Journal of Herpetology 21 (2): 96-101. - get paper here
  • Cooper, W.E., Jr., W.R. Garstka & L.J. Vitt 1986. Female Sex Pheromone in the Lizard Eumeces laticeps Herpetologica 42 (3): 361-366. - get paper here
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  • Felix, Zach I. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Plestiodon laticeps (broad-headed skink). Herpetological Review 44 (4): 626 - get paper here
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