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Tympanocryptis pinguicolla MITCHELL, 1948

IUCN Red List - Tympanocryptis pinguicolla - Vulnerable, VU

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Higher TaxaAgamidae (Amphibolurinae), Sauria, Iguania, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Victorian Grassland Earless Dragon 
SynonymTympanocryptis lineata pinguicolla MITCHELL 1948
Tympanocryptis lineata pinguicolla — WORRELL 1963: 76
Tympanocryptis pinguicolla — SMITH et al. 1999
Tympanocryptis pinguicolla — STARR & LEUNG 2006
Tympanocryptis pinguicolla — MELVILLE et al. 2019
Tympanocryptis pinguicolla — CHAPPLE et al. 2019: 97 
DistributionAustralia (Victoria, New South Wales)

Type locality: Southern Victoria.  
TypesHolotype: SAMA R2468a, from S Vic. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: “A small stout member of the Tympanocryptis lineata complex, most closely allied to Tympanocryptis pinguicolla of southern Victoria and readily identified by consulting the description in Jenkins and Bartell (1980:96-97, Plate on page 97) who regard this species as Tympanocryptis lineata pinguicolla.” [WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985]

Diagnosis. A species of Tympanocryptis with tapering snout, nasal scale below the canthus rostralis, 5–7 dark dorsal crossbands, lateral skin fold, dorsal tubercles with reduced development of a small vertically oriented terminal spine in only the largest individuals, heterogeneous thigh scalation including scattered enlarged tubercles, smooth gular scales, frequent presences of dark speckling on the ventral surfaces, especially the throat (from Melville et al. 2019: 16).

Comparison to other species. Tympanocryptis pinguicolla, with a distribution restricted to grasslands on the Victorian basalt plains around Melbourne, is geographically isolated and does not occur in close proximity to any other Tympanocryptis species. Tympanocryptis lineata, and T. osbornei sp. nov. are geographically closest (greater than 300 km). Tympanocryptis pinguicolla can be distinguished from all other Tympanocryptis in its almost vertically oriented dorsal tubercles that either lack a terminal spine or have only a small projection. They further differ from the two southern highlands species (T. lineata and T. osbornei) in the presence of enlarged tubercular scales scattered on the thighs, compared to the absence of this scalation, and differ from the currently undescribed populations of Tympanocryptis in northwest Victoria and adjacent South Australia in frequently having six or seven transverse dark dorsal bands (versus never more than five) and in the presence (versus absence) of a lateral skin fold (from Melville et al. 2019: 16). 
CommentHabitat: Tympanocryptis pinguicolla is a habitat specialist, occurring only in grasslands and using spider burrows as retreat sites (Smith et al. 1999; Scott and Keogh 2000).

Conservation. The dramatic reduction in native grasslands has meant that suitable habitat for T. pinguicolla has greatly diminished and the species is now formally listed as endangered throughout its range (Robertson and Cooper 2000, Web site below). The species may be extinct now, with the latest photo taken in life being from 1967 (Melville & Wilson 2019).

Distribution: records of this species from New South Wales represent T. osbornei and T. mccartneyi Melville et al. 2019, hence pinguicola is currently restricted to Victoria. 
  • Banks, Chris B; Robertson, Peter; Magrath, Michael JL and Harley, Dan. 2017. Searching for the Grassland Earless Dragon 'Tympanocryptis pinguicolla' in Western Victoria. Victorian Naturalist 134 (6): 187-198 - get paper here
  • Chapple, David G.; Reid Tingley, Nicola J. Mitchell, Stewart L. Macdonald, J. Scott Keogh, Glenn M. Shea, Philip Bowles, Neil A. Cox, John C. Z. Woinarski 2019. The Action Plan for Australian Lizards and Snakes 2017. CSIRO, 663 pp. DOI: 10.1071/9781486309474 - get paper here
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • Geyle, H. M., Tingley, R., Amy, A., Cogger, H., Couper, P., Cowan, M., Craig, M., Doughty, P., Driscoll, D., Ellis, R., Emery, J-P., Fenner, A., Gardner, M., Garnett, S., Gillespie, G., Greenless, M., Hoskin, C., Keogh, S., Lloyd, R., ... Chapple, D. 2020. Reptiles on the brink: Identifying the Australian terrestrial snake and lizard species most at risk of extinction. Pacific Conservation Biology - get paper here
  • Jenkins, R., & Bartell, R. 1980. A field guide to reptiles of the Australian high country [of Victoria & New South Wales]. Inkata Press, Melbourne 278 pp.
  • McGrath, T., Hunter, D., Osborne, W. & Sarre, S. D. 2012. A trial use of camera traps detects the highly cryptic and endangered grassland earless dragon Tympanocryptis pinguicolla (Reptilia: Agamidae) on the Monaro Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia. Herpetological Review 43: 249-252 - get paper here
  • Melville J & Wilson S 2019. Dragon Lizards of Australia. Museum Victoria, 406 pp. [reviews in HR 51 (3): 633, Copeia 108 (3): 701, 2020]
  • Melville J, Chaplin K, Hutchinson M, Sumner J, Gruber B, MacDonald AJ, Sarre SD. 2019. Taxonomy and conservation of grassland earless dragons: new species and an assessment of the first possible extinction of a reptile on mainland Australia. R. Soc. open sci. 6: 190233 - get paper here
  • Melville, Jane; Stephanie Goebel; Carly Starr; J. Scott Keogh & Jeremy J. Austin 2007. Conservation genetics and species status of an endangered Australian dragon, Tympanocryptis pinguicolla (Reptilia: Agamidae). Conservation Genetics 8:185–195 - get paper here
  • Mitchell, F. J. 1948. A revision of the lacertilian genus Tympanocryptis. Rec. South Austral. Mus. 9: 57-86 - get paper here
  • Scott, I.A.W.; Keogh, J.S. 2000. Conservation genetics of the endangered grassland earless dragon Tympanocryptis pinguicolla (Reptilia: Agamidae) in Southeastern Australia. Conservation Genetics 1(4):357-363.
  • Starr, C.R. & Leung, L. K.P. 2006. Habitat Use by the Darling Downs Population of the Grassland Earless Dragon: Implications for Conservation. JOURNAL OF WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT 70 (4): 897–903 - get paper here
  • Swan, G.; Sadlier, R.; Shea, G. 2017. A field guide to reptiles of New South Wales. Reed New Holland, 328 pp.
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
  • Worrell, E. 1963. Reptiles of Australia. Angus & Robertson (Sydney), xv + 207 pp
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