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Scincus mitranus ANDERSON, 1871

IUCN Red List - Scincus mitranus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Arabian Sand Skink, Sand Fish, Eastern Skink 
SynonymScincus mitranus ANDERSON 1871: 115
Scincus arenarius MURRAY 1884: 353
Scincus muscatensis MURRAY 1886: 67
Scincus muscatensis — BOULENGER 1887: 408
Scincus mitranus — SMITH 1935: 344
Scincus arabicus SCHMIDT 1939
Scincus philbyi SCHMIDT 1941: 162
Scincus philbyi — HAAS 1957: 78
Scincus richmondi HAAS 1961
Scincus muscatensis — LEVITON & ANDERSON 1967: 179
Scincus mitranus — ARNOLD & LEVITON 1977: 224
Scincus mitranus — BISCHOFF & SCHMIDTLER 1981
Scincus mitranus mitranus AL-SADOON 1988
Scincus mitranus — GRIFFITH, NGO & MURPHY 2000
Scincus mitranus muscatensis — VAN DER KOOIJ 2001
Scincus mitranus — SINDACO & JEREMČENKO 2008
Scincus mitranus — NASRABADI et al. 2017 
DistributionC/S Arabian Peninsula east of the Asir and Yemen highlands, and north to Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iran, Saudi Arabia

Type locality: Arabia  
TypesHolotype: ZSI 5584
Paratype: MSNG 37638 [philbyi] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Head relatively small; external ear orifice very small but visible, usually situated well below level of line made by lower edges of upper labial scales and typically covered by two scales, the hind edges of which are usually serrated over the orifice (rarely covered by a single, less serrated scale). Eye with relatively small cornea and a rounded pupil. Rostral scale broadly borders frontonasal; frontoparietals in usually extensive contact (rarely fused or separated) ; parietals relatively small (usually less than twice the length of adjoining nuchals). Dorsal scales smooth, mid-dorsals subequal to mid-ventrals (rarely more than slightly larger or smaller). (25) 26 to 30 (31) scales around mid-body. Adults and young without bold dorsal pattern, either almost uniform or with fine dappled pattern of lighter and darker spots; dark bars or spots present on flanks of nearly all adults. Auditory meatus long with some fairly well-developed scales distally and a long cartilage in its lateral wall. Extrastapes an elongate plate. Premaxillary rostrum long. Otic capsule normal squamosal quite sharply flexed, its upper border often forming a small spur. Distal section of supratemporal process of parietal not constricted, terminating well above level of ventral tip of squamosal. (Arnold & Leviton 1977)

EXTERNAL FEATURES. Head small, a little narrower or at most slightly broader than neck and body at level of forelimbs; length in animals over 80 mm may be about 19-24% of snout to vent distance width about 55-65% of head length. Some variation exists in snout proportions. Sides of snout usually at least slightly concave when viewed from above. Top of head rises relatively gently from snout-tip. Canthus rostralis quite well marked ; loreal region distinctly concave. Tail broader than deep proximally, clearly laterally compressed towards tip; up to 80% of snout to vent distance when undamaged. Rostral overhangs mental strongly, more SO than in sympatric S. scincus; prefrontals in contact, or fused (in north of range). Frontal often much wider in front than behind, often more so than in the S. scincus complex. Frontoparietals in usually extensive contact (rarely fused). Parietals relatively small, in most cases once to twice the length of adjoining nuchals. Supraoculars nearly always 6:6 (very rarely 5: 6 and said to be 5: 5 in type) supraciliaries usually four on each side (but up to seven may be present). Nostril oval or quite strongly crescentic, often in narrow contact with rostral shield. Often three loreals on each side (but first absent in north of range) if present, first loreal usually separated from frontonasal (but not in animals from Masirah Island and from 'Muscat'). Upper labials fairly deep (third is about I'5 to 2-8 times depth of second loreal); typically eight on each side, but number varies from seven to nine. Ear orifice very small but visible, situated usually well below level of line made by edges of upper labials; typically covered by the contiguous parts of two scales, the posterior edges of which are nearly always at least slightly serrated over actual orifice (in nine out of 101 animals checked for this feature, scales covering ear coalesce and may appear as a single plate, often with reduced serration). Typically three to five pairs of nuchals, but sometimes less and nuchals may even be absent. Dorsal scales smooth in adults and juveniles ; mid-dorsals subequal to mid-ventrals (rarely more than slightly wider or narrower). (25) 26 to 30 (31) scales around mid-body. Row of laterally expanded scales on dorsal midline of tail usually quite developed, typically extending proximally almost to the level of extremities of posteriorly adpressed hindlimbs, or a little beyond. Parts of scales forming posterior digital fringes often relatively broad and less acutely pointed than in S. hemprichii, and the outer border of each is more curved. Claws and ungual lamellae often strongly expanded laterally. (Arnold & Leviton 1977)

COLOUR AND PATTERN. Dorsal ground colour varies from pale buff or grey to warm brown or deep cinnamon. This colour may change somewhat in spirit, but in life, in combination with other pattern elements, generally matches the sand on which the individual is found, although there is some variation within populations. This colouring does not change, persisting for at least four years in captivity, even when animals are kept on contrasting backgrounds. Young animals may be almost uniform above or finely dappled with dark or light spots, or more usually with both. Adults possess a similar dappled dorsal pattern. Usually, this consists of one (or two) dark spots, sometimes confined to the posterior edge of the scale and bordered and separated by light, often whitish pigment. Both these elements may eventually extend forwards to cover a greater part of the scale. There is considerable variation in intensity and extent of the markings, even within populations; in animals from 'Muscat' and Masirah Island, the light spots are often large and form broken longitudinal lines along the back. The head usually lacks dappled patterning. The distal part of the dorsal surface of the tail is often reddish or light bluish, especially in young animals. The flanks and limbs are paler than the back and there may be some grey pigment, especially on the sides of the head and neck. In life, most animals (at least non-juveniles) have some deep yellow or orange pigment, although this rapidly disappears in alcohol. It is found on the feet where it is intense, on the upper surfaces of the limbs and as a series of short transverse bars situated dorsolaterally on the body and tail-base. At least some of those on the body extend upwards from the dark bars or spots on the flanks. There may also be yellow blotches between the dark bars or spots. Adults usually have a row of spots or short vertical bars on the flanks that vary in colour from pale pink through red to a very deep warm brown. They begin in front of the forelimbs and often extend to the groin and sometimes onto the tail-base as well. Often these flank bars decrease in size and intensity posteriorly. The number and spacing of bars or spots present and their size, shape and colour vary and there are often both individual and local differences. There is usually one or more rarely two bars in front of the forelimbs and from four to ten between the two pairs of legs. These markings are absent in hatchlings but may develop in animals as small as 57 mm snout to vent and, by the time they reach 70-80 mm, the majority have them. Above this size they are only occasionally absent (largest animal encountered without bars is a male, 105 mm snout to vent). Underside whitish or cream. Iris very dark brown. (Arnold & Leviton 1977) 
CommentDistribution: Not in Pakistan fide KHAN 2002 (pers. comm.). See map in Burriel-Carranza et al. 2019 for map in UAE. For overall distribution see map in Seufer et al. 2022. 
EtymologyNamed after Dr. Babu Rajendralala Mitra (1824-1891), an archeologist and anthropologist. Anderson explained that Mitra had obtained the skink holotype "from a Kashmir merchant, who stated that he brought the same from Arabia." 
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