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Sphenomorphus microtympanum GREER, 1973

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Sphenomorphini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymSphenomorphus microtympanus GREER 1973
Sphenomorphus microtympanum — GREER & SHEA 2004
Sphenomorphus microtympanum — CHAPPLE et al. 2021 
DistributionPapua New Guinea

Type locality: “Morobe district of the Territory of New Guinea at Garaina [...] at an elevation of approximately 2300 feet”  
TypesHolotype: AMNH 104076 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: S. microtympanus is a member of the fasciatus species group of Sphenomorphus and in that it lacks an ectopterygoid process to the palatine running along the outer edge of the palatal ramus of the pterygoid it is most similar to the fasciatus subgroup of that species group (Greer and Parker, 1967). It differs from all members of its species group, how ever, in having the tympanum both much reduced in size and decidedly more opaque (thickened?) (Greer 1973).

Description. Very similar to S. anotus. Both the holotype and paratype have a snout-vent length of 45 mm; in the paratype the tail is broken but in the type it is complete and measures 60 mm. Both specimens of S. microtympanus are a richer chocolate brown above than S. anotus and in preservative both lack the yellowish wash on the undersides shown by the holotype of S. anotus. These color differences may, however, be an artifact of preservation. There is a scaly auricular depression very similar to the auri cular depression of S. anolus, but at the bottom of the depression there is a small, opaque tympanum instead of scales as in 5. anolus (Fig. 2). Both type specimens of S. microtympanus have four pairs of nuchal scales, and, in three out of the four cases, there are six supralabials with the fourth situated most directly below the eye; on the right side of the head in the paratype there are seven supralabials and the fifth is under the eye. There are 26 scale rows at midbody and the scales of the two mid-dorsal rows number 75 in the paratype and 71 in the holotype when counted from the parietals to the midpoint of the insertion of the hind legs. The subdigital lamellae on the fourth toe number 8-10 (Greer 1973).

Color: In addition to being richer brown above and lacking the yellowish wash below, the type and paratype of S. microtympanus differ from S. anotus in having a very noticeable brown wash on the throat and chest instead of a very faint brown wash limited to the throat as in the type of S. anotus. This wash is much more pronounced in the paratype of S. microtympanus than in the holotype (Greer 1973).

Comparisons: Greer 1973 presents a table with comparative data for anotus, microtympanus, oligolepis, forbesi, schultzei, and beauforti. 
CommentThe name calls attention to the relatively small size of the tympanic membrane of the species. 
EtymologyThe name microtympanus calls attention to the relatively small size of the tympanic membrane of the species. 
  • Chapple, David G; Roll, Uri; Böhm, Monika; Aguilar, Rocío Amey, Andrew P Austin, Chris C Baling, Marleen Barley, Anthony J Bates, Michael F Bauer, Aaron M Blackburn, Daniel G Bowles, Phil Brown, Rafe M Chandramouli, S R Chirio, Laurent Cogger, Hal Co 2021. Conservation Status of the World’s Skinks (Scincidae): Taxonomic and Geographic Patterns in Extinction Risk. Biological Conservation 257: 109101 - get paper here
  • Greer, A.E. 1973. Two new lygosomine skinks from New Guinea with comments on the loss of the external ear in lygosomines and observations on previously described species. Breviora (406): 1-25 - get paper here
  • Greer, A.E. & Shea, G. 2004. A new character within the taxonomically difficult Sphenomorphus group of Lygosomine skinks, with a description of a new species from New Guinea. Journal of Herpetology 38 (1): 79-87 - get paper here
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