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Scincus hemprichii WIEGMANN, 1837

IUCN Red List - Scincus hemprichii - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymScincus hemprichii WIEGMANN 1837: 128
Pedorychus (Scincus) Hemprichii — PETERS 1864: 44
Scincus hemprichi — BOETTGER 1892
Scincus hemprichii — LEVITON & ANDERSON 1967: 233
Scincus hemprichii — FRITZ & SCHÜTTE 1988
Scincus hemprichii — GRIFFITH, NGO & MURPHY 2000
Scincus hemprichii — SINDACO & JEREMČENKO 2008 
DistributionYemen, SW Saudi Arabia

Type locality: Massaua, Abyssinien (probably in error fide ARNOLD 1986). Most likely “southern Tihama near jizan in Saudi Arabia or the vicinity of al-Luhayyah on the Yemen coast” (fide SCHÄTTI & GÜNTHER 2001).  
TypesHolotype: ZMB 1179 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Head large and broad ; external ear orifice minute, placed well below the level of the line made by the lower edges of the upper labial scales, and completely hidden by a large, smooth-edged scale ; eye with large cornea and a pupil that is vertically slit-shaped when contracted. Rostral scale separated from frontonasal by internasals; frontoparietals in limited contact or separated; parietals large (usually about twice the length of adjoining nuchals, or more). Dorsal scales ridged in adults ; mid-dorsals often distinctly larger than mid-ventrals; 22 -24 scales around mid-body. Dorsal pattern of adults and young consists of narrow, pale transverse bands on brownish ground; no dark bars or spots present on flanks. Auditory meatus quite long with at most a few scale vestiges distally and, proximally, a short triangular cartilage in its lateral wall. Extrastapes large and ovoid. Premaxillary rostrum short. Otic capsule huge, squamosal sharply flexed, its upper border forming a distinct spur posteriorly. Distal section of supratemporal process of parietal narrowed, terminating well above level of ventral tip of squamosal. (Arnold & Leviton 1977)

EXTERNAL FEATURES. Head large, distinctly broader than neck and much broader than body at level of forelimbs; length in mature animals may be about 24-30% of snout to vent distance width about 55-70% of head length. Snout often broad in adults, its sides at least slightly convex when viewed from above. Top of head rises relatively steeply from snout-tip, more so than in S. mitranus. Canthus rostralis very weak or absent loreal region only slightly concave. Tail approximately cylindrical in cross-section, slightly compressed laterally towards tip; about 50-60% of snout to vent distance in adults, up to 70% in juveniles. Rostral overhangs mental less than in most other Scincus, and is separated from frontonasal by internasals. Prefrontal in contact, unfused. Frontal rather wider in front than behind. Frontoparietals either meeting narrowly or separated (in one case, fused to frontal). Interparietal kite-shaped, often rather elongate, occasionally separating first pair of nuchals. Parietals relatively large, about I-7 to 3 times as long as first pair of nuchals. Supraoculars usually 6 : 6 (sometimes reduced to 5, at least unilaterally); supraciliaries typically four on each side (but three to seven may be present). Nostril round, oval or slightly crescentic; rostral excluded from its border. Usually three loreals on each side (but only two in one individual) ; if present, first loreal is separated from frontonasal. Upper labials deep (third is 2:3 to 3 times depth of second loreal); typically eight on each side but number varies from seven to nine. Ear orifice minute and situated well below level of line made by lower edges of upper labials; completely hidden by smooth-edged scale that is larger than neighbouring ones. Typically four or five pairs of nuchals (although counts may vary from two to five on each side). Dorsal scales more or less smooth in juveniles but ridged in older animals (two or three ridges on each scale, the riding being strongest towards the posterior edge) mid-dorsals distinctly wider than mid-ventrals. 22 to 24 scales around mid-body. Row of laterally expanded scales on dorsal midline of tail well developed, extending proximally beyond level of extremities of posteriorly adpressed hindlimbs. Parts of scales forming posterior digital fringes relatively narrow and pointed. Claws and ungual lamellae not strongly expanded laterally. (Arnold & Leviton 1977)

COLOUR AND PATTERN. In young animals, most dorsal scales are some shade of brown with a darker edge. These are interspersed by irregular transverse bands of paler scales, usually bearing opaque, whitish pigment, especially towards their posterior borders. This basic coloration is retained by many adults, but the dark scale edges tend to disappear and the whole pattern may sometimes fade. Nuchal area tends to be darker than the rest of back, and ground colour and intensity of pattern vary as does the number of light transverse bands. There may be one on the neck, from six to ten on the body and at least indications of more on the proximal part of the tail. Northern populations tend to have fewer bands on the body than southern ones (six or nine as against eight to ten). Dorsal pattern fades on flanks, which lack dark vertical bars or spots. Underside whitish or cream. Iris dark brown. In life, there is often some pale yellow on the flanks, legs and belly. Snout and extremities of limbs are usually pinkish. (Arnold & Leviton 1977) 
CommentIllustrated on Plate IV.1 in Tornier 1899.

Distribution: see map in Seufer et al. 2022. 
EtymologyNamed after Wilhelm Friedrich Hemprich (1796-1825), German naturalist. 
  • Anderson, John 1901. A list of the reptiles and batrachians obtained by Mr. A. Blayney Percival in southern Arabia. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1901 (2): 137-152 - get paper here
  • Arnold E N 1986. A key and annotated checklist to the lizards and amphisbaenians of Arabia. Fauna of Saudi Arabia 8: 385-435
  • Arnold, Edwin Nicholas & Leviton, Alan E. 1977. A revision of the lizard genus Scincus (Reptilia: Scincidae). Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) 31 (5): 187-248 - get paper here
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Boettger, O. 1892. Mitteilung über eine Reptiliensendung von Aden in Süd-Arabien. Ber. Tät. Offenb. Ver. Nat., Offenbach, 29 - 32: 61-63 - get paper here
  • Fritz,J.P. & Schütte,F. 1988. Skinke aus der Arabischen Republik Jemen. Salamandra 24 (1): 41-52 - get paper here
  • Griffith, H., A. Ngo & R. W. Murphy 2000. A cladistic evaluation of the cosmopolitan genus Eumeces Wiegmann (Reptilia, Squamata, Scincidae). Russ. J. Herpetol. 7 (1): 1-16 - get paper here
  • Khayrah, Y. & Fathy, Samah M. 2022. Biodiversity and Distribution of Lizards in Jazan area, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Egyptian Academic Journal of Biological Sciences, B. Zoology 14(1): 249-259 - get paper here
  • Paray, Bilal A.; Abdul Rahman Al-Mfarij, Mohammed K. Al-Sadoon 2017. Food Habits of the Arabian skink, Scincus hemprichii Wiegmann, 1837, (Sauria: Scincidae), in the Southwest Saudi Arabia. Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences - get paper here
  • Peters,W.C.H. 1864. Die Eidechsenfamilie der Scincoiden, insbesondere über die Schneider'schen, Wiegmann'schen und neue Arten des zoologischen Museums. Monatsber. K. Akad. Wiss. Berlin, 1864: 44-58 - get paper here
  • Schätti, B. & Gasperetti, J. 1994. A contribution to the herpetofauna of Southwest Arabia. Fauna of Saudi Arabia 14: 348-423
  • Schätti,B. & Günther, R. 2001. Type localities opf amphibian and reptile species collected by Hemprich and Ehrenberg in sothwestern Arabia and Eritrea. Mitt. Mus. Naturk. Berlin Zool. Reihe 77: 153-156 - get paper here
  • Seufer, Hermann; Thomas Kowalski, Berd-Michael Zwanzig & Wolfgang Grossmann 2022. Ein bisher übersehener Fundort von Scincus conirostris Blanford, 1881 im Sultanat Oman. [A hitherto overlooked locality of Scincus conirostris Blanford, 1881 in the Sultanate of Oman] Sauria 44 (4): 43-48
  • Sindaco, R. & Jeremcenko, V.K. 2008. The reptiles of the Western Palearctic. Edizioni Belvedere, Latina (Italy), 579 pp. - get paper here
  • Sindaco, Roberto; Riccardo Nincheri, Benedetto Lanza 2014. Catalogue of Arabian reptiles in the collections of the “La Specola” Museum, Florence. Scripta Herpetologica. Studies on Amphibians and Reptiles in honour of Benedetto Lanza: pp. 137-164 - get paper here
  • Steindachner, Franz 1903. Batrachier und Reptilien von Südarabien und Sokotra, gesammelt während der südarabischen Expedition der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Sitzungsb. Akad. Wiss. Wien, math.-naturwiss. Kl., 112, Abt. 1: 7-14 - get paper here
  • Tornier,G. 1899. Reptilia. In: Carlgren,O., Hilgendorf,F., Martens, E. von, Matschie, P., Tornier, G., & Weltner, W. (eds.). Symbolae physicae seu icones adhuc ineditae corporum naturalium novorum aut minus cognitorum quae ex itineribus per Libyam, Aegyptum, Nubiam,k G. Reimer, Berlin. - get paper here
  • Wiegmann, A. F. A. 1837. Herpetologische Notizen. Archiv für Naturgeschichte 3: 123-136 - get paper here
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