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Sphenomorphus yersini NGUYEN, NGUYEN, NGUYEN, ORLOV & MURPHY, 2018

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Yersin’s Forest Skink 
SynonymSphenomorphus yersini NGUYEN, NGUYEN, NGUYEN, ORLOV & MURPHY 2018 
DistributionS Vietnam (known only from Hon Ba NR, Khanh Hoa Province)

Type locality: Hon Ba NR., Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam; 12°8’13”N, 108°57’39”E; elevation 1162 m a.s.l.  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: ITBCZ 5685, adult male, collected from Hon Ba NR., Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam; coordinates 12°8’13”N, 108°57’39”E; elevation 1162 m a.s.l. by L.T. Nguyen, V.D.H. Nguyen, and S.N. Nguyen on 16 October 2016 (Fig. 1). Paratypes. Two specimens, also collected from Hon Ba NR by L.T. Nguyen, V.D.H. Nguyen, and S.N. Nguyen: ITBCZ 5686, adult female (Fig. 2C&D), and ITBCZ 5684, adult male (Figs. 2A&B and 3), collected on 14 October 2016, coordinates 12°8’22”N, 108°58’06”E; elevation 932 m a.s.l. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Sphenomorphus yersini sp. nov. is distinguished from all of its congeners by a combination of the following morphological characters: size in adults (SVL) up to 56 mm; TaL/SVL ratio 1.81; toes reach to fingers when limbs adpressed; 32–34 smooth midbody scale rows; 61–69 paravertebral scales; 58–67 ventral scale rows; 112 subcaudal scales; four, rarely five, supraoculars; prefrontals in broad contact with one another; two loreal scales; tympanum deeply sunk; smooth lamellae beneath Finger IV and Toe IV 10–12 and 18–20, respectively; two enlarged precloacal scales; hemipenis smooth, deeply forked, asymmetrical with a long lobe and another short; black and interruptive dorsolateral line; lateral side and lower part of head, neck, and tail orange to red in male.

Comparisons. Sphenomorphus yersini sp. nov. differs from its congeners in Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Peninsular Malaysia, and southern China [Yunnan]) as follows: from S. anomalopus (Boulenger) by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 70 mm), fewer midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 38) and more lamellae beneath toe IV (18–20 vs. 14); from S. bacboensis by having one (vs. two) anterior temporal, more midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 30–32), and more supralabials (7 vs. 6); from S. cameronicus Smith by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 70 mm) and fewer midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 38); from S. cophias Boulenger by having a larger size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 37 mm), more midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 24), more lamellae under fourth toe (18–20 vs. 9) and prefrontals in broad contact (vs. separated); from S. cryptotis by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 58–79 mm), fewer midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 36–39) and tympanum deeply sunk (vs. superficial); from S. grandisonae Taylor by having a larger size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 30 mm), one (vs. two) anterior temporal, more supralabials (7 vs. 6) and lamellae under toe IV (18–20 vs. 12), and adpressed limbs overlapping (vs. failing to touch); from S. helenae Cochran by having more midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 30), prefrontals in broad contact (vs. separated), and presence of an interrupted (vs. uninterrupted) lateral stripe; from S. incognitus by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 80–103 mm), fewer midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 36–40), and one (vs. two) anterior temporal; from S. indicus by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 90 mm), prefrontals in broad contact (vs. separated), and asymmetrical and deeply forked hemipenis (vs. symmetrical); from S. lineopunctulatus Taylor by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 84 mm), fewer midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 38), fewer paravertebral scale rows (61–69 vs. 76), and prefrontals in broad contact (vs. separated); from S. maculatus by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 62 mm), fewer midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 38–42), and prefrontals in broad contact ( vs. separated); from S. malayanum by having fewer ventral scales (32–34 vs. 74), fewer paravertebral scales (61–69 vs. 76–80), more lamellae under fourth toe (18–20 vs. 15), and deeply sunk (vs. shallow) tympanum; from S. mimicus by having a larger size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 36 mm), more midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 30) and more lamellae under fourth toe (18–20 vs. 16); from S. orientale (Shreve) by having more midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 24–26) and fewer paravertebral scale rows (61– 69 vs. 69–71); and from S. praesignis (Boulenger) by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 109 mm) and more midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 28). Sphenomorphus yersini sp. nov. differs from S. sanctus (Duméril & Bibron) by having a larger size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 40–45 mm), fewer paravertebral scales (61–69 vs. 71), fewer supraoculars (4[5] vs. 5), and fewer lamellae under toe IV (18–20 vs. 26–27); from S. scotophilus (Boulenger) by having more midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 28–31), fewer supraoculars (4 vs. 5), and fewer lamellae under fourth toe (18–20 vs. 22–23); from S. senja Grismer & Quah by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 60–65 mm), fewer paravertebral scales (61–69 vs. 72–73), fewer ventral scale rows (60–67 vs. 68), one (vs. two) anterior temporal, more lamellae under toe IV (18–20 vs. 13–17) and prefrontals in broad contact with each other (vs. narrow in contact or slightly separated); from S. sheai by having a larger size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 35 mm), more midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 20), more paravertebral scales (61–69 vs. 53), more supralabials (7 vs. 6), more lamellae under fourth toe (18–20 vs. 6), and adpressed limbs overlapping (vs. separated); from S. shelfordi (Boulenger 1900) by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 67 mm), fewer lamellae under toe IV (18–20 vs. 28–29) and the absence of nuchals (vs. presence of a single pair of nuchals); from S. stellatus by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 80 mm), more midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 24) and absence (vs. presence) of two enlarged, broader than long, vertebral scale rows; from S. sungaicolus Sumarli, Grismer, Wood, Ahmad, Rizal, Ismail, Izam, Ahmad & Linkem by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 67–90 mm), fewer midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 39–44), fewer paravertebral scales (61–69 vs. 72–81) and fewer ventral scale rows (32–34 vs. 74–86); from S. tarsus (Smith) by having a smaller size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 90–92 mm) and two loreals (vs. three); from S. tetradactylus by having more midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 20), absence (vs. presence) of external ear opening, and forelimb with five digits (vs. four digits); from S. tonkinensis by having a larger size (SVL 50–56 mm vs. 36–49 mm), TaL/ SVL ratio 1.80 (vs. 1.32), and one (vs. two) anterior temporal; from S. tridigitus by having a larger size (SVL 50– 56 vs. 35), more midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 20), absence (vs. presence) of external ear opening and forelimb with five digits (vs. three digits); and from S. tritaeniatus by having a larger size (SVL 50–56 vs. 47), fewer midbody scale rows (32–34 vs. 38) and paravertebral scales (61–69 vs. 81), more lamellae under toe IV (18–20 vs. 15) and one anterior temporal (vs. two).
Sphenomorphus yersini sp. nov. is similar to S. buenloicus in many aspects (size, midbody scale rows, number of anterior temporals, lamellae under fourth toe, etc.). However, the new species can be distinguished from S. buenloicus by having a relatively longer tail (TaL/SVL ratio 1.8 vs. 1.2), usually more ventral scale rows (58–67 vs. 55–58) and deeply forked hemipenis with two asymmetrical lobes and the outer lobe is much longer than the inner one (vs. hemipenis forked at the middle point of its length with two developing lobes and the outer lobe is slightly longer than the inner one [Figs. 6&7]).
 
Comment 
EtymologyEtymology. We name this new species in honor of the famous physician and bacteriologist, Alexandre Yersin (1863–1943), who discovered the bacterium responsible for bubonic plague. Hon Ba NR associates with the name of Alexandre Yersin who built a research station on the top of the mountain and worked there. Currently, the research station has been reconstructed and opened to visitors. 
References
  • NGUYEN, SANG NGOC; LUAN THANH NGUYEN, VU DANG HOANG NGUYEN, NIKOLAI L. ORLOV, ROBERT W. MURPHY 2018. A new skink of the genus Sphenomorphus Fitzinger, 1843 (Squamata: Scincidae) from Hon Ba Nature Reserve, southern Vietnam Zootaxa 4438 (2): 313–326 - get paper here
 
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