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Scelotes guentheri BOULENGER, 1887

IUCN Red List - Scelotes guentheri - Vulnerable, VU

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Günther's Dwarf BurrowingSkink
E: Bourquin’s Dwarf Burrowing Skink [bourquini] 
SynonymScelotes guentheri BOULENGER 1887: 414
Herpetosaura inornata GÜNTHER 1873: 147 (part.)
Herpetosaura guentheri — WITTE & LAURENT 1943: 27
Scelotes guentheri — BROADLEY 1994
Scelotes guentheri — BATES et al. 2014: 275

Scelotes bourquini BROADLEY 1994
Scelotes guentheri — RAW 1973: 11 (not BOULENGER)
Scelotes guentheri — BRANCH 1988: 122 (not BOULENGER)
Scelotes bourquini — BATES et al. 2014: 272 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal [KZN] Midlands)

Type locality: Port Natal (= Durban), in error, and probably the port of shipment, not the place of collection. The actual locality is somewhere in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands (fide L. Raw, pers. comm., 28 Dec 2022)

bourquini: South Africa (Durban), KwaZulu-Natal; Type locality: Dargle, KwaZulu-Natal.  
TypesHolotype: BMNH
Holotype: NMZB UM 8284 [bourquini] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Broadley 1994: 251 
CommentSynonymy: Raw 2021 synonymized S. bourquini with S. guentheri. While we consider this decision as preliminary, we follow Raw, given the fact that guentheri was described from a single specimen and may be extinct (or considered as a subspecies). It is currently impossible to verify the status of guentheri. The 3 South African members of the Skink Specialist Group (IUCN SSG) agree with this position (although they tend to keep bourquini for the time being) (Dave Chapple via Shai Meiri, pers. comm., 31 May 2021).

Type species: Scelotes guentheri Boulenger 1887 is the type species of the genus Podoclonium COPE 1892, a synonym of Scelotes, fide Shea 2021.

Group: Belongs to the S. inornatus group.

Conservation: Described from a single specimen and most likely extinct (Bates et al. 2014, Bauer et al. 2018).

Limb morphology: This species lost its forelimb entirely and minute hind limb buds (L. Raw, pers. comm., 28 Dec 2022).

Abundance: S. guentheri is only known from the type specimen (Meiri et al. 2017), as long as S. bourqini is considered a separate species. 
EtymologyNamed after Albert Günther (1830-1914), German-born zoologist at the British Museum.

S. bourquini was named after Dr. Ortwin "Orty" Bourquin (b. 1942), a South African biologist, naturalist, and herpetologist who worked for the Natal Parks Board for 30 years. 
  • Bates, M.F.; Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M.; Burger, M., Marais, J.; Alexander, G.J. & de Villliers, M.S. (eds.) 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, 512 pp.
  • Bauer, A.M., Conradie, W. & Marais, J. 2018. Scelotes guentheri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T44979051A115670551
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G. A. 1887. Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) III. Lacertidae, Gerrhosauridae, Scincidae, Anelytropsidae, Dibamidae, Chamaeleontidae. London: 575 pp. - get paper here
  • Branch,W.R. 1988. Field Guide to the snakes and other reptiles of southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, 328 pp.
  • Broadley, D. G. 1994. The genus Scelotes Fitzinger (Reptilia: Scincidae) in Mozambique, Swaziland and Natal, South Africa. Annals of the Natal Museum 35: 237-259.
  • Cope, E.D. 1892. On degenerate types of scapular and pelvic arches in the Lacertilia. Journal of Morphology 7: 223–242 - get paper here
  • Günther, A. 1873. Notes on and descriptions of some lizards with rudimentary limbs, in the British Museum. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (4) 12: 145-148 - get paper here
  • Hewitt, John 1911. Records of South African Lacertilia and Amphibia, Addenda and Corrigenda. Annals Transvaal Museum 3 (1): 42-55. - 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
  • Raw, L.R. 1973. Scelotes guentheri rediscovered? J. Herp. Assoc. Africa 10: 11-12 - get paper here
  • Raw, L.R.G. 2021. Observations on Abnormalities in South African Reptiles. ZooNova 6: 1–15
  • Raw, Lynn R. G. 2021. On the Status of Scelotes bourquini Broadley and Scelotes guentheri Boulenger (Sauria: Scincidae) from Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. ZooNova 7: 1-6 - get paper here
  • SHEA, GLENN M. 2021. The identity of twelve scincid generic names proposed by Cope in 1892 (Squamata: Scincidae). Zootaxa 5057 (4): 577–589 - get paper here
  • Witte, G.F. & R. LAURENT 1943. Contribution à la systématique des formes dégradées de la famille des Scincidae apparentées au genre Scelotes Fitzinger. Mém. Mus. r. Hist. nat. Belg. (sér.2) 26: 44 pp.
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