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Scelotes farquharsoni RAW, 2020

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymScelotes farquharsoni RAW 2020 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal)

Type locality: Grassland east of Qudeni Forest, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa  
TypesHolotype: LR 1978, a male specimen collected by L.R.G. Raw on 12 October 1975. Paratypes: LR 1975-1977; LR 1979-1981; LR 1983; all collected together with the holotype by L.R.G. Raw at the same location and on the same date. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: “The new species, together with Scelotes guentheri and S. bourquini, differ with respect to the limb structure and overall size from all the other Scelotes species occurring in KwaZulu-Natal, Eswatini (Swaziland) and Mozambique as reviewed by Broadley (1994). In this review he states: “S. mirus has a pentadactyle hindlimb with 8-10 lamellae beneath the fourth toe. S. duttoni has a didactyle hindlimb with 6-7 lamellae beneath the longer toe. S. bidigittatus has a didactyle hindlimb, the two toes subequal in length with 2-3 subdigital lamellae. S. mossambicus has a well-developed clawless hindlimb bud, S. guentheri and S. bourquini have very small hindlimb buds, while S. vestigifer has a minute pimple indicating the last external vestige of a hindlimb. All other taxa are limbless.”
Similarly, the new species is larger than the other known species in the area except for S guentheri, S. bourquini and the clearly separable four-limbed S. mirus (Broadley, 1994, fig. 2).
The new species has 20 midbody scale rows as do both S. guentheri and S. bourquini. This character is shared by some of the other Scelotes species in this area that have been eliminated from consideration on the basis of limb structure as shown above (Broadley, 1994, Table 1).
As shown above, these three species form a cohesive group with S. guentheri separated from S. bourquini only by a slightly lighter dorsal pattern (Broadley, 1994, Fig. 1) and the presence of the postnasal shield (perhaps aberrant, Raw 1973). The lighter dorsum has possibly faded with age as I have seen in another specimen of Scelotes.
The new species, while physically similar to both S. bourquini and S. guentheri, can be easily distinguished from both of these by having a darker dorsum and distinctly spotted ventrals and subcaudals whereas the other two have uniform (unspotted) central ventral scales (Fig. 1).” (Raw 2020) 
CommentSynonymy: possibly a synonym of S. bourquini (= guentheri) or S. inornatus (fide David Chapple, pers. comm., 2 Nov 2020, Darren Pietersen, pers. comm., 9 Feb 2023). Raw's diagnosis is insufficient to differentiate the species from S. bourquini (the key in Broadley 1994 leads to this species). Raw claims that the belly colouration distinguishes S. bourquini from S. farquharsoni, which has not been shown across a larger sample. Also, the types are kept by the author and hence are difficult, if not impossible, to examine. No molecular data was provided by Raw 2020. Work is under way to clarify the status of farquharsoni. 
EtymologyNamed in honour of the late Frank Lumsden Farquharson (1934-2019) in recognition of his loyal friendship and his significant support of my herpetological research and fieldwork through several decades. 
  • Raw, Lynn R. G. 2020. A New Species of Scelotes (Sauria: Scincidae) from Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. ZooNova 1 (4): 40-47 - get paper here
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