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Scincus scincus (LINNAEUS, 1758)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
SubspeciesScincus scincus cucullatus WERNER 1914
Scincus scincus meccensis WIEGMANN 1837
Scincus scincus scincus (LINNAEUS 1758) 
Common NamesE: Sandfish Skink
G: Apothekerskink 
SynonymLacerta stincus [sic] LINNAEUS 1758: 205 (in error?)
Scincus officinalis LAURENTI 1768
Stincus officinalis — MEYER 1795: 30
Lacerta scincus — SHAW & NODDER 1812: plate 1031
Scincus officinalis — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1839: 564
Scincus officinalis — GRAVENHORST 1851: 313
Scincus officinalis — BOULENGER 1891: 138
Scincus officinalis — HEMPRICH & EHRENBERG in TORNIER 1899
Scincus officinalis lineolata WERNER 1914: 343 (fide KLUGE 1984: 40)
Scincus scincus — ARNOLD & LEVITON 1977
Scincus officianalis — BAUER 2004 (in error)
Scincus scincus — GRANDISON 1956
Scincus officinalis — BONS 1959

Scincus officinalis — MEERMAN 1979
Scincus scincus — SCHLEICH, KÄSTLE & KABISCH 1996: 359
Scincus scincus — GRIFFITH, NGO & MURPHY 2000
Scincus scincus — ŠMÍD et al. 2014
Scincus scincus — BAR et al. 2021

Scincus scincus cucullatus WERNER 1914
Scincus officinalis var. cucullata WERNER 1914
Scincus officinalis var. cuculiata — TIEDEMANN et al. 1994: 57 (in error)
Scincus scincus cucullatus — ARNOLD & LEVITON 1977: 212
Scincus scincus cucullatus — SCHLÜTER 2005
Scincus scincus cucullatus — SINDACO & JEREMČENKO 2008
Scincus scincus cucullatus — TRAPE, CHIRIO & TRAPE 2012

Scincus scincus meccensis WIEGMANN 1837
Scincus meccensis WIEGMANN 1837
Scincus meccensis — TORNIER 1899
Scincus deserti HAAS 1957
Scincus scincus meccensis — ARNOLD & LEVITON 1977
Scincus scincus meccensis — SCHÄTTI & GASPERETTI 1994
Scincus scincus meccensis — MÜLLER 1996
Scincus scincus meccensis — MODRY et al. 2004
Scincus scincus meccensis — SINDACO & JEREMČENKO 2008
Scincus scincus meccensis — AL-SHAMMARI 2012
Scincus scincus meccensis — SINDACO et al. 2014
Scincus scincus meccensis — DISI et al. 2014 
DistributionTunisia, Algeria, SE Libya, Egypt, Sinai, Israel, Jordan, Yemen, , Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Western Sahara ?, Mauritania ?, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, C Sudan (Jumhūriyyat)

cucullatus: N Algeria, Tunisia, Nw Libya, N Nigeria; Type locality: “Tunesien”

meccensis: W Saudi Arabia, Jordan, SE Syria

Type locality: “in montosis Lybiae, Aegypti, Arabiae petrae”.  
Reproductionoviparous (not imputed, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesSyntype: NRM 141a (as holotype, by Arnold & Leviton, 1977), presented Envoy Baron Brinkman, 1.ix.1838 (fide Anderson, 1900). While this specimen has been previously identified as the holotype, Linnaeus' description is also based on a number of literature records (Gronovius, 1756; Seba, 1735; Bessler & Bessler, 1716; Olearius, 1674; Ray, 1693; Hasselquist, 1751, 1757), and the specimens that are the basis of those literature records are also syntypes. Only NRM 141a has so far been identified as a type specimen of this species.
Holotype: ZMB 1178 from “Arabia” [= along the shore near Jiddah or ... toward Makkah (fide Schätti & Günther 2001) [meccensis]
Holotype: CAS 84519 [conirostris]
Syntypes: NMW 10386:3, Tripoli, collected Werner & Klaptocz, 1906; UMMZ 67158 (2 specimens), Tunisia, purchased F. Werner [cucullatus]
Syntypes: UMMZ 67261, NMW [lineolata] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Heavy limbs with robust pes, expanded lamellae on digits and phalanges, short-tailed. Conical head, convex in lateral view, parietal bone with clear lateral indentations and supratemporal fontanelle open. Sexual dimorphism in head proportions not distinct. Spatulate rostrum supported by extended fused premaxillae. Strong ventrolateral keels running from upper labial scales to sacral region (convergent with other genera of sand-swimming lizards). Scales thick, separated by deep sutures. Two loreals, second fused with first of two presuboculars. Postnasal present. Palpebral and superciliary scales separated by groove. Usually four or five pairs of nuchal scales. Broadened mid-dorsal scales, mid-dorsal rows not fused. Medial preanal scales enlarged, lateral edges coincide with ventrolateral keels. Small, ventrally directed ear opening covered by several overlapping lobules. Color pattern variable, but generally consisting of transverse stripes or bars on pale background. From Saharan Africa, eastward to southern Iran (fide GRIFFITH et al. 2000).

Diagnosis: Head variable in size but tending to be intermediate between that of S. mitranus and S. hemprichi external ear orifice relatively large, its upper margin reaching the continuation of the line made by the lower edges of the upper labial scales and typically covered by two serrated scales. Eye with relatively small cornea and rounded pupil. Rostral scale usually borders frontonasal, at least narrowly (but not in S. s. conirostris, or in rare examples of other populations) ; frontoparietals in usually extensive contact ; parietals relatively large (usually I'5 to 2•5 times length of adjoining nuchals). Dorsal scales usually smooth, but very weakly ridged in some adults, mid-dorsals subequal to mid-ventrals, but sometimes distinctly larger, or slightly smaller. 24 to 30 scales around mid-body. Young either almost uniform or with fine, dappled pattern; this may be retained by adults or converted into a system of dark or light transverse bands, or both ;: dark bars or spots may be present on the flanks of adults in some populations. Auditory meatus comparatively short its distal section thick-walled and lined with well-developed scales cartilage in lateral wall short. Extrastapes a slender bar. Premaxillary rostrum moderately developed. Squamosal gently curved, no spur on its upper border. Distal section of supratemporal process of parietal not constricted, terminating almost at level of ventral tip of squamosal. (Arnold & Leviton 1977)

EXTERNAL FEATURES. Head rather variable in size, often a little narrower than, or as broad as, the neck and as the body at level of forelimbs, but considerably broader in mature males from Egypt and in male S. s. conirostris; length in animals over 80 mm varies from about 21 to 26% of snout to vent distance, width is from about 52 to 70% of head length. Top of head may rise gently in lateral profile, as in S. mitranus, or more steeply and sometimes as much as in S. hemprichii. Canthus rostralis quite well marked; loreal region distinctly concave. Tail broader than deep proximally, laterally compressed at least to some extent distally. Up to 80% of snout to vent distance when undamaged. Rostral overhangs mental strongly, sometimes as much as in S. mitranus, least in some S. s. conirostris in contact with frontonasal in most cases but not in nearly all S. s. conirostris and rare individuals from other populations if present, such contact is variable in extent, but may be as great as in S. mitranus. Prefrontal in contact (rarely fused, or separated by an azygos shield). Frontal broader in front than behind. Frontoparietals usually in broad contact (but occasionally this is rather restricted). Parietals relatively large, typically 1} to 2} times the length of adjoining nuchals but sometimes three times as long. Supraoculars usually 6 : 6, but five supraoculars, either uni- or bi-laterally, occurs as a rare variant in North Africa and more commonly in Arabian populations. Supraciliaries usually four on each side, but number varies from three to five. Nostril laterally oval, or crescentic; rostral completely excluded from its border in the great majority of cases. Three (very rarely two) loreal scales on each side first loreal does not contact frontonasal in nearly all individuals of many populations, but reaches frontonasal in majority of animals from western North Africa etc. and from northwest Arabia etc. Upper labials rather variable in depth when compared with second loreal, usually 1*3 to 2•2 times as deep ; typically eight on each side, but number varies from seven to nine. Ear orifice relatively large, its upper margin situated slightly above, or level with, a continuation of the line made by the lower edges of the upper labials; covered by two (occasionally three) scales, the posterior edges of which are strongly serrated to produce a fringe, often with four main lobes. Typically three to five pairs of nuchal scales, but number on one side may vary from one to ten. Dorsal scales usually smooth but may be very slightly ridged, at least posteriorly, in some individuals from the extreme west of the range (Spanish Sahara to Senegal) mid-dorsals often subequal to mid-ventrals but they may be rather wider in western animals. 24 to 30 scales around mid-body. Row of laterally expanded scales on dorsal midline of tail usually quite poorly developed, and in great majority of cases does not extend to the level of the extremities of the posteriorly adpressed hindlimbs, and only very rarely beyond. The parts of the lamellae forming digital fringes are somewhat variable being sometimes quite broad and sometimes mucronate. Claws long, and, like ungual lamellae, often expanded laterally. (Arnold & Leviton 1977)

COLOUR AND PATTERN. Dorsum of young animals uniform, or with a dappling of small dark or light spots, or both. Ground colour varies and may be ivory, pale grey, straw, pale buff, pale brown or cinnamon. The dappled pattern typically consists of one or two dark spots per scale, sometimes confined to the posterior edge, where they may coalesce to form a dark border; they are typically edged and separated by pale pigment. These elements may sometimes extend forward to cover much of the scale. A simple dappled dorsal pattern is retained by some animals (e.g. northwest Algerian populations and some animals in Arabia) but it often differentiates with maturity to produce a series of dark or light transverse bands or both. Dark bands produced by spreading of the dark pigment are found in many North African populations and vary considerably in width and number, They may be much wider than the lighter interspaces or much narrower and they vary in intensity. From the forelimbs to the vent, there may be five to ten bands ; a further band is present on the posterior neck and this may or may not fuse with an anterior nuchal patch that is usually visible. The dark transverse bands often anastomose and are sometimes staggered on each side of the body. When poorly developed, they may be most prominent in the dorsolateral region. Light bands visible in spirit are produced most usually by loss of pigment from the scales and in life are often yellow or deep orange. In North Africa they may alternate with the dark bands, but in Arabia this is not so and they are often confined to the dorsolateral region. Dappled pattern is often reduced on the tail but is intensified in northwest Algerian animals. Flanks and limbs tend to be paler than the back and there may be some dark (often greyish) pigment along the sides of the head and neck: this is very marked in northwest Algerian animals where there is a distinct dark streak on each side. In life, most animals have some yellow or orange pigment. Apart from in the light transverse dorsal bands, when present, there is often a suffusion of yellow on the feet, limbs and flanks. Adults in some populations (western North Africa etc., northwest Arabia) have a row of spots or short vertical bars on the flanks that vary from pale pink through red to a very deep purple brown. They alternate with the dark dorsal bands, if any, and begin in front of the forelimbs and may extend to the tail-base, although they tend to diminish in size and intensity posteriorly. There is considerable local and individual variation in their form, colour and arrangement. Typically there is one in front of the forelimbs and from three to Six between the two pairs of legs. These markings are absent in hatchlings but may develop in animals as small as 62 mm. Underside whitish or cream. Iris very dark brown or blackish. (Arnold & Leviton 1977)

Comparisons: Although juveniles of scincus and albifasciatus do not seem to be easily separable, adults could be keyed as follows.
a. No bars on flanks: dorsal bands, when present, not much wider and often much
narrower than interspaces, six to nine from forelimbs to vent region: scincus.
b. Bars present on flanks: dorsal bands, when present, usually much wider than
interspaces, five to seven from forelimbs to vent region: albifasciatus.

DIAGNOSIS (meccensis). A subspecies of S. sinews in which the head is apparently not markedly expanded in large animals and which has the frontonasal in contact with both the rostral and the anterior loreal in nearly all cases. Adults have fine dappled dorsal pattern of lighter and darker spots, often interspersed with light, sometimes translucent scales that are yellow or orange in life and are frequently arranged in short transverse bars. Dark vertical bars or spots are present on flanks of adults. (Arnold & Leviton 1977)

EXTERNAL FEATURES (meccensis). Head fairly large; in mature males not more than slightly broader than neck and body at level of forelimbs ; length in animals of over 70 mm varies from about 23 to 25% of snout to vent distance, width is about 55-63% of head length. Top of head rises gently in lateral profile as in many S. mitranus. Rostral typically contacts frontonasal at least narrowly (two exceptions out of 17 animals checked). Supraoculars usually 5: 5 or 6 : 6 (5: 5 in 12, 5: 6 in three, 6: 6 in 13). Nostril oval or slightly crescentic; rostral usually excluded from its border (one exception). Three loreal scales on each side; first in contact with frontonasal. Usually four or five nuchals on each side (although unilateral counts may vary from three to five). Dorsal scales smooth in adults and juveniles. Mid-dorsals more or less subequal to mid-ventrals. 24 to 28 scales around mid-body (see Table 3). (Arnold & Leviton 1977)

COLOUR AND PATTERN (meccensis). Dorsal colouring generally very similar to that of S. s. conirostris (p. 222), both in living and preserved animals. Differs mainly in presence of vertical bars or blotches on flanks of non-juveniles. These vary in colour from pale pink or orange-brown to deep purple-brown. They may develop in animals as small as 62 mm. Iris blackish in life. (Arnold & Leviton 1977) 
CommentSubspecies: Scincus scincus albifasciatus BOULENGER 1890, S. c. laterimaculatus WERNER 1914, and S. s. conirostris BLANFORD 1881 are now considered as valid species.

Distribution: JOHANN (1981) also mentions S. s. cucullatus from Algeria. See map in SMID et al. 2014 for distribution in Iran. See map in Burriel-Carranza et al. 2019 for map in UAE. Not in Morocco (Martínez et al. 2019, and pers. comm. 18 Jan 2021). See Bar et al. 2021 for a map.

Type Species: Scincus stincus LINNAEUS 1758 is the type species of the genus Scincus LAURENTI 1768. However, GARSAULT 1764 described Scincus earlier and thus DUBOIS & BOUR (2010) designated Scincus scincus var. laterimaculatus Werner, 1914 (onymotope: western Algeria), as nucleospecies of Scincus Garsault, 1764. Scincus is also the type genus of the family Scincidae Oppel 1811, the subfamily Scincinae Oppel 1811 (see Hedges 2014 and Shea 2021 for details).

Distribution not corrected after removal of albifasciatus and laterimaculatus. 
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