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Varanus samarensis KOCH, GAULKE & BÖHME, 2010

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Higher TaxaVaranidae, Platynota, Anguimorpha, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Common NamesSamar water monitor 
SynonymVaranus cumingi samarensis KOCH, GAULKE & BÖHME 2010
Varanus samarensis — WELTON et al. 2014
Varanus (Soterosaurus) samarensis — BUCKLITSCH et al. 2016: 50 
DistributionPhlippine Islands (Samar, Leyte, Bohol)

Type locality: San Augustin near Gandara, Samar Island, Philippines  
TypesHolotype: ZFMK 64713 (Figs. 9–12), a subadult male, collected by M. Gaulke 1989. Paratype. ZFMK 64712 (Fig. 13), an adult female, Tiomonan near Gandara, Samar Island, Philippines, collected by M. Gaulke 1989 
CommentDiagnosis: A subspecies of V. cumingi clearly distinguished from the nominotypic form by the following combination of characters: (1) A distinctive dorsal colour pattern of five to eight transverse rows of large yellow ocelli, spots, or markings on a black ground colour; (2) predominantly black dorsal side of the head with a varying extent of more-or-less symmetrical yellow markings; (3) black temporal streak sometimes bordered below by a bright stripe; and (4) no bright medio-dorsal stripe on neck and back. (5) Nostrils’ position on average about two and half times closer to the tip of the snout than to the eye (index 2 = 2.00–3.29, mean = 2.41). For details about scalation features and colour pattern of the remaining Philippine members of the V. salvator complex please refer to Tables 3 and 5 in KOCH et al. 2010.

Diagnosis.—Following the findings of Koch et al. (2010b), Varanus samarensis can be distinguished from other members of the V. salvator Complex by a combination of (1) distinctive dorsal color pattern of 5–8 transverse bands of yellow ocelli or spots through the trunk; (2) a dark (black) head dorsally, with symmetrical yellow markings; (3) a variable black stripe in the temporal region, occasionally bordered by a bright (yellow-white) stripe ventrally; (4) the absence of a medio-dorsal stripe on the lateral surfaces of the nuchal region and trunk; (5) narial openings positioned approximately 2.5 times closer to the tip of the snout than to the ocular (updated, from Welton et al. 2014). 
EtymologyV. cumingi has been named after the collector of the type, “Mr. H. Cuming”. The subspecific epithet samarensis refers to the type locality Samar Islands, Philippines. 
  • Böhme, W. 2002. Langjährige Haltung und Altersrekord eines Bindenwarans, Varanus salvator (LAURENTI 1768) im Terrarium: zweithöchstes belegtes individuelles Lebensalter eines Vertreters der Varanidae. Herpetofauna 24 (141): 26-28 - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1885. Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Vol. 2, Second edition. London, xiii+497 pp. - get paper here
  • Koch, A. 2010. Underestimated Diversity of Philippine Water Monitor Lizards (Varanus salvator Complex) Unraveled: a Contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity, 2010. Biawak 4 (2): 69-74 - get paper here
  • Koch, A., Auliya, M; Schmitz, A.; Kuch, U. & Böhme, W. 2007. Morphological studies on the systematics of south east Asian water monitors (Varanus salvator Complex): nominotypic populations and taxonomic overview. Mertensiella 16:109-180
  • Koch, A.; Gaulke, M. & Böhme, W. 2010. Unravelling the underestimated diversity of Philippine water monitor lizards (Squamata: Varanus salvator complex), with the description of two new species and a new subspecies. Zootaxa 2446: 1–54 - get paper here
  • Koch, André; Mark Auliya & Thomas Ziegler 2010. Updated checklist of the living monitor lizards of the world (Squamata: Varanidae). Bonn Zool. Bull. 57 (2): 127–136 - get paper here
  • Koch, André; Thomas Ziegler, Wolfgang Böhme, and Mark Auliya 2013. Pressing Problems: Distribution, Threats, and Conservation Status of the Monitor Lizards (Varanidae: Varanus spp.) of Southeast Asia and the Indo-Australian Archipelago. Herp. Cons. Biol. 8 (Monograph 3): 1 − 62. - get paper here
  • Martin, W. 1839. [Remarks on two species of saurian reptiles]. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1838: 68-70 - get paper here
  • Mertens, R. 1942. Die Familie der Warane (Varanidae), 3. Teil: Taxonomie. Abh. Senckenb. naturf. Ges., 466: 235-391
  • Welton, Luke J.; Perry L. Wood, Jamie R. Oaks, Cameron D. Siler, Rafe M. Brown 2014. Fossil-calibrated phylogeny and historical biogeography of Southeast Asian water monitors (Varanus salvator Complex). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution - get paper here
  • Welton, Luke J.; SCOTT L. TRAVERS, CAMERON D. SILER, RAFE M. BROWN 2014. Integrative taxonomy and phylogeny-based species delimitation of Philippine water monitor lizards (Varanus salvator Complex) with descriptions of two new cryptic species. Zootaxa 3881 (3): 201–227 - get paper here
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