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Scelotes montispectus BAUER, WHITING & SADLIER, 2003

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Bloubergstrand Dwarf Burrowing Skink 
SynonymScelotes montispectus BAUER, WHITING & SADLIER 2003
Scelotes montispectus — BATES et al. 2014: 278 
DistributionSouth Africa (near Cape Town)

Type locality: Approximately 4.6 km north of Grootbaai, Bloubergstrand on Melkbos Rd, 33°45’02’’S, 18°26’34’’E  
TypesHolotype: CAS 223934, California Academy of Sciences 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Avery large Scelotes (134mm SVL) with a robust body, wedge-shaped snout, no forelimbs, and reduced, didactyl hindlimbs. Scales in 22 rows around midbody. Dorsal color buff with faint dark markings on dorsal 7 scale rows; a dark mask from nostril through eye to nuchal scales. The combination of no external forelimbs and didactyl hindlimbs otherwise characterizes only S. bidigittatus, S. kasneri, S. bipes, S. sexlineatus, S. guentheri, and S. brevipes. The number of midbody scale rows further distinguishes the new species from all of these congeners except S. bidigittatus (20–22 scale rows) and S. kasneri (22 rows). It differs from the former in its much larger size (134 mm vs 83 mm max SVL), higher number of subdigital lamellae (5 beneath the longest digit in S. montispectus vs 2–3 in S. bidigittatus), and non-scaly lower eyelid. The new species is nearly identical in scalation to S. kasneri but differs from it in the absence of dark stripes on the body, chin shields in contact behind the postmental, shorter limbs (7.7% SVLvs 9.1% SVL), and in having a lower number of subdigital lamellae (5 vs 7). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is derived from the Latin, montis, meaning mountain, and spectus, behold, in reference to the type locality, which offers some of the finest views of Table Mountain. 
  • 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., Whiting, A.S., and Sadlier, R.A. 2003. A new species of Scelotes, from near Cape Town, Western Cape Province, South Africa. Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. 54:231-237. - get paper here
  • Heideman, Neil J.L.; Daniel G. Mulcahy, Jack W. Sites, Martin G.J. Hendricks, Savel R. Daniels 2011. Cryptic diversity and morphological convergence in threatened species of fossorial skinks in the genus Scelotes (Squamata: Scincidae) from the Western Cape Coast of South Africa: Implications for species boundaries, digit reduction and conservation. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 61 (3): 823-833 - get paper here
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