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Sphenomorphus sungaicolus SUMARLI, GRISMER, WOOD, AHMAD, RIZAL, ISMAIL, IZAM, AHMAD & LINKEM, 2016

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymSphenomorphus sungaicolus SUMARLI, GRISMER, WOOD, AHMAD, RIZAL, ISMAIL, IZAM, AHMAD & LINKEM 2016 
DistributionC Peninsular Malaysia, elevation <300 m.

Type locality: Hutan Lipur Sekayu, Hulu Terengganu, Peninsular Malaysia (4°59'N, 102°55'E) (Fig. 3 in Sumarli et al. 2016). Map legend:
Type locality - Type locality.
 
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. Adult male (LSUHC 11722) collected on 1 May 2014 by Syed A. Rizal.
Paratypes. Adult female (LSUHC 11780) collected from Hutan Lipur Chemerong, Terengganu, Peninsular Malaysia (4°39'N, 103°00'E) on 4 April 2014 by Syed A. Rizal. Adult female (BPBM 43794) collected from Ulu Gombak, Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia (3°18'N, 101°47'E) on 13 June 1962 by John R. Hendrickson. Adult female (ZRC. 2.4915) collected from the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), Kepong, Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia (3°14'N, 101°38'E) on 27 February 2001 by Tzi Ming Leong. 
CommentRelationships: S. sungaicolus sp. nov. forms a clade with the Indochinese species S. maculatus, S. indicus, and S. tersus and is the sister species of the latter.

Diagnosis: Adults reach at least 89.6 mm SVL; body slender; tail long (SVL/TL = 66.5–89.6 mm); limbs not overlapping when adpressed; dorsal scales smooth, 39–44 rows at midbody; 72–81 paravertebral scales; 74–86 ventral scale rows; four supraoculars; prefrontals widely separated or in contact; two loreal scales; supranasal absent; 18–21 lamellae beneath Toe IV; enlarged precloacal scales; dorsal body bands and lateral stripes absent; numerous thin, faded, light-colored transverse markings on back continuing onto tail to form rectangular markings; non-descript small, dark speckles on back, flanks, and tail; venter beige; palmar and plantar surfaces dark-grey; foot scalation on the postaxial margin of Toe IV exhibits a distinct line of demarcation between smooth, imbricate scales on dorsal surface and rough, tuberculate scales on ventral surface.

Comparisons. Sphenomorphus sungaicolus sp. nov. can be differentiated from other scincid genera in Peninsular Malaysia by having limbs bearing five digits unlike those of Larutia (Bleeker); by lacking dorsal scales with keels as in Dasia (Gray) and Eutropis (Fitzinger); lacking an enlarged central disk on the lower eyelid as in Emoia (Gray) and Lipinia (Gray); having adpressed limbs meeting unlike those of Lygosoma (Hardwicke & Gray) and Larutia; and lacking supranasal scales unlike Larutia, Dasia, Eutropis, Emoia, Lipinia, and Lygosoma from Peninsular Malaysia (Grismer 2011).
Sphenomorphus sungaicolus sp. nov. most closely resembles its sister species S. tersus but can be separated from it by having a smaller body size (SVL 66.5–89.6 mm versus 90.5–96 mm); 72–81 paravertebral scales versus 70; 74–86 ventral scales versus 68; 20–22 scale rows at position of 10th subcaudal scale row versus 19; and dorsal scales on the posterior margin of Toe IV of the foot approaching the ventral surface versus terminating in a distinct line of demarcation between smooth dorsal scales and tuberculate ventral scales at the posterior margin of Toe IV (Fig. 4). The dorsal surface of S. sungaicolus sp. nov. is earthy brown in color versus reddish brown and its tail color is uniform with the rest of the body versus being darker towards the end of the tail compared to the rest of the body in S. tersus (Fig. 3). Paravertebral and ventral scale counts were not included by Taylor (1963) for Thai specimens of Sphenomorphus tersus.
Sphenomorphus sungaicolus sp. nov. bears less resemblance to S. maculatus and S. indicus and is differentiated from them based on color pattern, SVL (Table 3), and plantar scalation (Fig. 4). Sphenomorphus sungaicolus sp. nov. can be distinguished from S. maculatus in being significantly larger (SVL = 66.5–86 mm versus 59.6–62.5 mm). Sphenomorphus maculatus has a distinct wide, dark, dorsolateral stripe extending from the nostril to the base of the tail that is bordered dorsally by a thin white stripe that is lacking in S sungaicolus sp. nov. Sphenomorphus maculatus also differs by having a brown ground color with faint black markings on the top of the head and exhibits a derived plantar scale arrangement in that the dorsal scales on the posterior margin of the foot extend onto the ventral surface to Toe III. Sphenomorphus sungaicolus sp. nov. has a larger maximum SVL than S. indicus (SVL = 89.6 mm versus 79 mm) and can be distinguished from it in lacking a golden ground color with a distinct dark, dorsolateral stripe extending from nostril to the base of the tail. However, both S. sungaicolus sp. nov. and S. indicus have the same plantar scale morphology despite not being each others closest relatives. Both S. indicus and S. maculatus have beige colored palmar and plantar surfaces that match the color of the venter. S. sungaicolus sp. nov. and S. tersus have darker, brown palmar and plantar surfaces that are darker than the venter.

Habitat: riparian areas coursing through lowland dipterocarp forest, along the edges of watercourses.

Distribution: see map in Sumarli et al. 2016: 33 (Fig. 1). 
Etymology“Sungai” is the Malaysian word for river and “-colus” is derived from the Latin meaning “dweller in”. The specific epithet sungaicolus refers the obligate riparian nature of this new species. 
References
  • SUMARLI, ALEXANDRA; L. LEE GRISMER, PERRY L., JR. WOOD, AMIRRUDIN B. AHMAD, SYED RIZAL, LUKMAN H. ISMAIL, NUR AMALINA MOHD IZAM, NORHAYATI AHMAD, CHARLES W. LINKEM 2016. The first riparian skink (Genus: Sphenomorphus Strauch, 1887) from Peninsular Malaysia and its relationship to other Indochinese and Sundaic species Zootaxa 4173 (1): 029–044 - get paper here
 
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