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Scincella lateralis (SAY, 1822)

IUCN Red List - Scincella lateralis - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Sphenomorphini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Ground Skink, Little Brown Skink
S: Escíncela de Tierra 
SynonymScincus lateralis SAY in JAMES 1822: 324
S.[cincus] unicolor HARLAN 1825: 156
Lygosoma lateralis — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1839: 719
Hombronia fasciolaris GIRARD 1858: 196
Mocoa lateralis — GÜNTHER 1885: 31
Leiolopisma laterale — LOENNBERG 1894
Leiolopisma laterale — JORDAN 1899: 324
Leiolopisma laterale — ALLEN 1932
Leiolopisma unicolor — BURT 1935
Leiolopisma laterale — SCHMIDT & OWENS 1944
Scincella laterale — MITTLEMAN 1950: 19
Leiolopisma laterale — SMITH & BURGER 1950
Leiolopisma laterale — LEWIS 1951
Scincella lateralis — SMITH & TAYLOR 1950: 159
Leiolopisma fasciolare — MITTLEMAN 1952
Lygosoma lateralis — COCHRAN 1961: 145
Lygosoma laterale — NEMURAS et al. 1966
Scincella lateralis — GREER 1974: 7
Lygosoma laterale — MCCOY 1975
Leiolopisma fasciolare — HARDY 1977: 261
Hardyscincus fasciolare — WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985
Scincella lateralis — CONANT & COLLINS 1991: 128
Scincella lateralis — LINER 1994
Scincella lateralis — WHITING et al. 2003
Scincella lateralis — LINKEM et al. 2011 
DistributionUSA (Texas, Oklahoma, E Kansas, S Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, S Illinois, S Indiana, S Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey).
Mexico (Coahuila, Durango)  
Reproductionoviparous (fide Wikipedia). 
TypesSyntype: USNM 3152, Mississippi River below Cape Girardieu, Cape Girardieu County, Missouri, collected S.W. Woodhouse (identified as holotype by Cochran, 1961). No specific locality given in type description, which is based on specimens observed by Say during the expedition's passage "down the Mississippi to New Orleans", and which "proved to be specifically indentical with specimens which I formerly collected in Georgia and East Florida", although the description is given in a footnote in the Expedition's report at the time of its stay in Cape Girardieu. Say also stated that the largest specimen seen was lodged in the "Philadelphia Museum".
Holotype: lost, given as USNM 5685, Bay of Islands, New Zealand (locality in error; see comment) [Hombronia fasciolaris] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): This genus is differentiated from other sphenomorphines by its small size, attenuate habitus, terrestrial behaviour, postorbital bone which is usually long and thin, and a transparent window in a moveable lower eyelid (Greer 1974). Note that the lower eyelid with a transparent or opaque window is found in several genera of Asiatic skinks: Asymblepharus, Leptoseps, Lipinia, Paralipinia, and Vietnascincus (Darevsky & Orlov 1994, 1997, Greer 1997, Eremchenko 2002, Shea & Greer 2002).

An important diagnostic character of the genus Scincella is the presence of a transparent or an opaque window on lower eyelid (Boulenger, 1887; Smith, 1935; Taylor, 1963; Greer, 1974; Ouboter, 1986). However, this feature is also found in several genera of Asiatic skinks: Asymblepharus, Leptoseps, Lipinia, Paralipinia, and Vietnascincus (Darevsky and Orlov, 1994, 1997; Greer, 1997; Eremchenko, 2002; Shea and Greer, 2002; Greer and Shea, 2003).

Diagnosis (genus). Small scincid lizards. Palatine bones in contact mesially;
pterygoid bones in contact anteriorly, the palatal notch not extending forward to between the centers of the eyes; pterygoid teeth minute or absent; maxillary teeth conical; eyelids well developed, the lower one with an undivided transparent (sometimes semi-opaque) disc. Nostril in the nasal; no supranasals; prefrontals, frontoparietals, interparietal distinct; tympanum exposed; four principal supraoculars; two loreals; supra- and infra-labials 6 or 7; frontonasal broader than long; rostral wider than deep; prefrontals not meeting, or else forming a short suture equal to less than half their depth; a pair of enlarged preanals. Snout short, obtuse, flat, or convex. Limbs pentadactyl, moderately developed (in part from Smith, 1935: 293; modified after Mittleman 1950: 19).

Diagnosis (genus): Small (snout-vent length 65 mm or less), attenuate, terrestrial skinks with a post- orbital bone which is usually long and thin and a transparent window in a movable lower eyelid; clutch and litter sizes variable, up to 11 (Greer 1974: 7).

Description (genus): Scincella can be diagnosed by the following combination of characters: (1) body size medium (SVL usually < 65 mm); (2) alpha palate (Greer, 1974) with nine premaxillary teeth; (3) long, thin postorbital bone usually present; and (4) with a transparent window in a movable lower eyelid. Transparent window may be lacking in southern populations of Sp. cheerei [LINKEM, DIESMOS & BROWN 2011].

Scincella species are characterized by their small size, elongated body, short limbs, relatively long tail, smooth subcycloid scales (most species), small oblong head with transparent disc in a movable lower eyelid, absence of supranasals, pentadactyl hindlimbs, one row of basal subdigital lamellae (most species), median preanals overlapping lateral ones, four or more scales bordering the parietals between the upper secondary temporals, and lower secondary temporal overlapping the upper one (diagnosis follows Greer & Shea, 2003; Lim, 1998; Nguyen et al., 2010a, 2010b, 2010c). Furthermore, the genus Scincella is differentiated from closely related Sphenomorphus Fitzinger by the presence of a transparent window in the lower eyelid as opposed to lower eyelid covered with polygonal scales in Sphenomorphus (Greer, 1974; Nguyen et al., 2010a) [from Neang et al. 2018]. 
CommentThe taxonomy of Scincella lateralis has been confusing because of the similarity of North American and Asian forms and because of the resulting nomenclatural confusion. Therefore, the synonymy presented here is preliminary. Hombronia fasciolaris is a synonym of Sincella lateralis fide Glenn Shea, pers. comm. via David Chapple, 15 Nov 2022. The name “Hombronia” is preoccupied by a crustacean.

Type species: Sincella lateralis is the type species of the genus Scincella MITTLEMAN 1950 (fide GREER 1974).

Distribution: Not in Nuevo León fide Nevárez-de los Reyes et al. 2016. Hombronia fasciolaris was originally reported from New Zealand by GIRARD 1858 but has been removed from the list of New Zealand lizards by Hardy & Hicks 1980. Not in Querétaro fide Tepos-Ramírez et al. (2023).

Types: ''The presumed holotype of Hombronia fasciolaris matches neither the original description nor Girard's redescription; instead the specimen is more similar to the description and redescription of Lipinia vulcania. This specimen is tentatively proposed as the holotype of the latter taxon; the type of the former is not extant in the USNM.'' [from ZUG 1985, Copeia]

Abundance: Hombronia fasciolaris is only known from the type specimen but see “Types” above (Meiri et al. 2017).

Key: Jia et al. 2023 present a key to the Chinese species of Scincella. 
EtymologyThe generic epithet is derived from the Latin word scincus, meaning "skink," and the suffix -ellus, meaning "little," and thus combined meaning "little skink." 
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