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Pseudoacontias menamainty ANDREONE & GREER, 2002

IUCN Red List - Pseudoacontias menamainty - Critically Endangered, CR

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymPseudoacontias menamainty ANDREONE & GREER 2002
Pseudoacontias menamainty — SCHMITZ et al. 2005
Pseudoacontias menamainty — LIVIGNI 2013: 269 
DistributionNE Madagascar

Type locality: collected at Berara Forest, Sahamalaza Peninsula, Analalava Fivondronana, Mahajanga Faritany (Majunga Province), 14°18.55'S,
47°54.92'E, elevation c. 170 m.  
Reproductionoviparous (phylogenetic imputation, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: MRSN R1826 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A species of Pseudoacontias distinguished from the two other species in the genus, P. angelorum Nussbaum & Raxworthy, 1995 and P. madagascariensis Barboza du Bocage, 1889 (holotype and only known specimen destroyed), in the following combination of characters: frontal divided obliquely (possibly anomalous); nostril well into rostral scale (vs close to posterior edge); loreal slightly deeper than long (much longer than deep); supralabials five (six); infralabials four (five and six, respectively); front limb represented by a `button'-like scale (no trace and no reported trace, respectively); rear limb absent (short and paddle-like and no reported trace, respectively); longitudinal scale rows at mid-body 25 (34 and 32, respectively), and presacral vertebrae 67 (82 and unknown, respectively) (Andreone et al. 2002).

Comparison with similar species: Unfortunately the type and only known specimen of Pseudoacontias madagascariensis Barboza du Bocage, 1889 has been destroyed (E. G. Crespo, in Brygoo, 1980b) and hence today is known only from the brief original description and the accompanying simple, but confidence-inspiring, drawings of the dorsal and lateral view of the head. However, using those characters that are known or can be reasonably inferred for the species (such as the absence of any external trace of limbs, as the limbs are not mentioned in the original description), a limited comparison is possible between the species described here and the two earlier described species of Pseudoacontias. On this basis, P. menamainty is more primitive than P. angelorum and P. madagascariensis in three regards: loreal slightly deeper than long (vs much longer than deep); fewer longitudinal scale rows at mid-body (26 vs 34 and 32, respectively), and the retention of an external trace of the front limb, albeit only a flat, button like structure. In contrast, P. menamainty shares only one derived character with one of the species, P. madagascariensis: the total absence, externally, of the rear limb.
Pseudoacontias menamainty is unique in comparison to the other two species with regard to a character whose two states are of uncertain polarity. It has one tertiary temporal bordering the lower secondary temporal whereas the other two species have two (Barboza du Bocage, 1889: Fig. 2 for P. madagascariensis). It may also be noted that the original description of P. madagascariensis says there were three supraoculars, but the figure shows only two; this compares with one on each side in P. angelorum and two on one side and one on the other in P. menamainty. The new species has three apparently derived character states, two of which are unique in comparison to the other two species and one of which may be shared with one of the species. The two unique derived character states are: a reduced number of supraciliaries, two or fewer vs four, and a reduced number of supralabials, five vs six. The possibly shared derived character state is the contact between the first supraocular and the loreal. Pseudoacontias madagascariensis clearly has the primitive condition of the first supraciliary in contact with the frontonasal thereby separating the first supraocular and loreal (Barboza du Bocage, 1889: Figs 1 & 2). However, the condition in P. angelorum is ambiguous as the original Figure (Nussbaum and Raxworthy, 1995: Fig. 2) shows broad contact between the first supraocular and the loreal on the right side (dorsal view) but two different interpretations on the left side: narrow contact (dorsal view) and narrow separation (lateral view) (Andreone et al. 2002). 
CommentNo hindlimbs, forelimbs reduced to a button-like scale; no ear openings visible.

Only known from a single specimen.

Abundance: only known from the type specimen (Meiri et al. 2017). 
EtymologyThe specific name `menamainty' is a compound Malagasy word which is based on the words `mena' for `red' and `mainty' for `black' and refers to the red and black striped aspect of this skink in life. It is used here as a noun in apposition (`the red and black one'). The phonetic rendition is: “mai”na-”ma”inty (accented syllables in quotes). 
  • Andreone, F. & Greer, A.E. 2002. Malagasy scincid lizards: descriptions of nine new species, with notes on the morphology, reproduction and taxonomy of some previously described species (Reptilia, Squamata: Scincidae). Journal of Zoology 258, 139-181 - get paper here
  • Belluardo, F., Muñoz-Pajares, A. J., Miralles, A., Silvestro, D., Cocca, W., Ratsoavina, F. M., ... & Crottini, A. 2022. Slow and steady wins the race: Diversification rate is independent from body size and lifestyle in Malagasy skinks (Squamata: Scincidae: Scincinae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 107635 - get paper here
  • LiVigni, F. (ed.) 2013. A Life for Reptiles and Amphibians, Volume 1. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 495 pp. - get paper here
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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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