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Sphenomorphus dekkerae SHEA, 2017

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Sphenomorphini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymSphenomorphus dekkerae SHEA 2017 
DistributionIndonesia (Doberai Peninsula)

Type locality: Ajamaroe [= Ayamaru], Vogelkop [= Doberai Peninsula], [Maybrat Regency, West Papua Province, Indonesia  
Reproductionoviparous (not imputed, fide Zimin et al. 2022) 
TypesHolotype: RMNH RENA 30144. Collected by Leo D. Brongersma and Willem J. Roosdorp in June 1952. Paratype: RMNH RENA 30145, data as for holotype. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A small Sphenomorphus (SVL of both mature specimens 50 mm), differing from all other members of the genus in the combination of postsupraocular present, and no division of temporal scalation (primary, upper secondary and lower secondary temporal scales single, last two supralabials undivided), but with the appearance of a divided penultimate supralabial created by enlargement of the second postsubocular, intruding between penultimate supralabial and primary temporal.

Comparison with other species: The presence of a postsupraocular scale places this species in the S. maindroni group of Greer and Shea (2004). Within this group, S. dekkerae would key to couplet 19 using the key provided by Greer and Shea (2004), along with S. brunneus, S. loriae, S. oligolepis and S. solomonis. Of these four species, only S. solomonis occurs on the Doberai Peninsula (de Rooij 1915; Greer 1973; Greer & Parker 1974). Sphenomorphus dekkerae sp. nov. may be differentiated from all four species in having no division of either of the last two supralabials, 10-11 supraciliaries (vs a mode of 8-9 in the other four species), and a more strongly and evenly defned pattern of dark markings on body dorsum and fanks, with a generally transverse orientation (vs sparser, less continuous pattern, and with generally longitudinal orientation). Sphenomorphus oligolepis, S. brunneus and S. solomonis have the last supralabial divided, the penultimate supralabial undivided, the primary temporal usually undivided (modally divided in some populations of S. solomonis) and the upper and lower secondary temporals undivided; the division of the last supralabial is into an upper and lower scale, the upper overlapping the lower, and the two scales together covering the same feld as the last supralabial of S. dekkerae). Sphenomorphus loriae has further division of scales in this region. It may further be differentiated from S. oligolepis by having more numerous subdigital lamellae (20-22 vs 9-12) and midbody scales (30-33 vs 24-26), but fewer paravertebral scales (53-58 vs 60-69), from S. loriae by having fewer paravertebral scales (vs 86-92), more subdigital lamellae (vs 13-16), and the postmental contacting only a single infralabial on each side (vs two), from S. brunneus in having more numerous subdigital lamellae (vs 15-21) and midbody scales (vs 25-28), and only the frst pair of chin shields in contact (vs frst two pairs in median contact). From populations of S. solomonis on the Doberai Peninsula and adjacent islands, S. dekkerae additionally differs in its smaller size (SVL 50 mm vs up to 79 mm), fewer paravertebral scales (vs 58-71), and more numerous subdigital lamellae (vs 12-20). These differences refect the relatively longer limbs and shorter trunk of S. dekkerae (sum of limb lengths/AGL 115.7-128.0% vs 67.8-93.1%, mean = 80.9%, n = 27, for mature-sized S. solomonis from the region). One other described member of the S. maindroni species group occurs on the Doberai Peninsula, S. maindroni itself. This species may be differentiated from S. dekkerae, with which it shares a transversely oriented dorsal pattern of broader dark markings and narrow pale markings, by the more complete nature of the pale bands, by having broadly contacting prefrontal scales, the frst two pairs of chin shields in contact, multiple pairs of nuchal shields, more numerous paravertebral scales (60-69) and paravertebral scale rows much broader than those lateral to them. Of species occurring in the Maluku Archipelago to the west of the Doberai Peninsula, only S. consobrinus is similar to S. dekkerae. The two species have similar body proportions, seven supralabials, grooved subdigital lamellae (like most New Guinea Sphenomorphus), undivided temporal scales and modally lack nuchal scales (occasionally having one nuchal unilaterally), but differ in that S. consobrinus lacks a postsupraocular scale, has no division of the supralabial scales, has broadly contacting prefrontal scales, the postmental contacting the frst two infralabials on each side, and has the second and third pair of chin shields separated from the infralabials by an oblique row of interposed scales, and is much smaller (maximum SVL 38 mm). Further, as reported by Greer (1977), S. consobrinus has only a single oviduct, while S. dekkerae, like most Sphenomorphus, has two. 
EtymologyThe species is named for Ms Els J. Dekker, who frst recognised its distinctive morphology in 1977. 
  • SHEA, Glenn M. 2017. A new species of Sphenomorphus (Squamata: Scincidae) from the Doberai Peninsula of New Guinea, with a redescription of Sphenomorphus consobrinus (Peters et Doria, 1878). Biodiversity, Biogeography and Nature Conservation in Wallacea and New Guinea 3: 35-48 - get paper here
  • Zimin, A., Zimin, S. V., Shine, R., Avila, L., Bauer, A., Böhm, M., Brown, R., Barki, G., de Oliveira Caetano, G. H., Castro Herrera, F., Chapple, D. G., Chirio, L., Colli, G. R., Doan, T. M., Glaw, F., Grismer, L. L., Itescu, Y., Kraus, F., LeBreton 2022. A global analysis of viviparity in squamates highlights its prevalence in cold climates. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 00, 1–16 - get paper here
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