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Trachylepis varia (PETERS, 1867)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Mabuyinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesVariable skink 
SynonymEuprepes (Euprepis) varius PETERS 1867: 20
Euprepes Olivierii var. albo-punctatus BOCAGE 1867
Euprepes angolensis BOCAGE 1872
Euprepes (Euprepis) Isselii PETERS 1871: 567
Euprepes varius — FISCHER 1884: 20
Mabuia varia — BOULENGER 1895: 168
Mabuia varia — NEUMANN 1905
Mabuya varia varia — LOVERIDGE 1936: 69
Mabuya varia nyikae LOVERIDGE 1953: 211
Euprepes (Euprepis) Isselii PETERS 1871: 567
Mabuya varia var. isselii — LOVERIDGE 1923
Mabuya varia — AUERBACH 1987: 111
Mabuya varia isselii — LANZA 1988
Mabuya varia — GREER et al. 2000
Euprepis varius — MAUSFELD et al. 2002
Trachylepis varia — BAUER 2003
Mabuya varia — CIMATTI 2006
Mabuya isselii — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2006: 70
Mabuya isselii — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 391
Mabuya varia — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 403
Trachylepis isselii — SINDACO et al. 2012
Trachylepis varia — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 148
Trachylepis cf. albopunctata — MARQUES et al. 2018 
DistributionNE Namibia, Botswana, E Republic of South Africa (Eastern Cape etc.), Swaziland, Zimbabwe, SW Mozambique, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, Angola, E/S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Malawi, Ethiopia, Eritrea; elevation up to at least 10,458 ft (Mt Kineti).

Type locality: Tete, Mozambique, ca. -16.145° S, 33.61° E(based on PETERS 1854).

angolensis: Type locality: Biballa and Dondo, Angola.

albo-punctatus: Type locality: Benguella and Catumbella, Angola.

isselii: Eritrea; Type locality: “Keren, im Bogoslande”, Eritrea [Isseli]

nyikae: Type locality: "Nyika Plateau above Nchenachena, at 7000 feet, northwest of Lake Nyasa, Nyasaland" [Malawi].  
Reproductionviviparous 
TypesLectotype: ZMB 64341, designated by Weinell & Bauer 2017 (Fig. 9); from syntypes ZMB 1231, ZMB 64341 (formerly ZMB 1231a), and ZMB 64342 (some of which may be members of different clades).
Syntypes: ZMB 7272 [isseli]
Holotype: lost (destroyed by fire) [albo-punctatus]
Holotype: lost (destroyed by fire) [angolensis]
Holotype: MCZ R-50860 [nyikae] 
DiagnosisComparisons: This species is most likely to be confused with Trachylepis damarana, Trachylepis laevigata, or Trachylepis variegata, but can usually be distinguishable from these species based on color pattern or lepidosis. In T. damarana, the relative length of the ventral margin of the second loreal scale is usually much longer than in T. varia, whereas the relative length of the anterior margin of the second loreal is usually longer in T. varia than in T. damarana. Trachylepis laevigata has thin, dark longitudinal stripes on the dorsum that begin a few scale rows behind the nuchal scales, whereas the region behind the nuchal scales is usually uniformly colored (without stripes and matching the dorsal color of the head) in T. varia. Trachylepis variegata has the nostrils situated anterior to the rostrolabial suture, whereas T. varia has the nostrils situated in line with or posterior to the rostrolabial suture. Furthermore, the nostrils are situated more dorsally in T. variegata compared to T. varia. Furthermore, T. variegata frequently lacks a pale lateral stripe and often occurs in arid habitats (including deserts), whereas T. varia virtually always has a pale lateral stripe and is found in grassland- dominated habitats. (from Weinell & Bauer 2017). 
CommentSynonymy partly after BOULENGER 1887, LOVERIDGE 1957: 212. WEINELL & BAUER 2017 removed Euprepes (Mabuya) laevigatus PETERS 1869 and Euprepes damaranus PETERS 1870 from the synonymy of T. varia. The status of Euprepes isselii needs further analysis as none of the papers cited here seems to have analyzed any signfiicant number of specimens to clearly distinguish it from T. varia. However, Sindaco et al. 2012 characterize it as follows: “frontoparietal shields fused [not fused]; mid-body scale rows 30-34 [38], the dorsals tricarinate [2-3 carinated]; a dark lateral band from eye to groin with a pale dorsolateral stripe above and pale lateral stripe beneath [different pattern].”

Distribution: not corrected for the removal of T. damarana and T. laevigata. Weinell & Buaer 2017 did not present a revised range for T. varia. A recent molecular and morphological review (Weinell and Bauer 2018) demonstrated that true T. varia is absent from Angola, with the Angolan “varia” belonging to a separate clade that extends from Angola to Zambia. As noted by Weinell and Bauer (2018) it is likely that the names Euprepes olivieri var. albo-punctatus Bocage, 1867 and Euprepes angolensis Bocage, 1872 apply to this clade. Note that Marques et al. 2018 consider Euprepis angolensis as a probable junior synonym of T. albopunctata. The latter has been considered by some to refer to the same species as Mabuia striata angolensis Monard, 1937 (see Trachylepis monardi account). 
Etymology 
References
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