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Varanus sparnus DOUGHTY, KEALLEY, FITCH & DONNELLAN, 2014

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Higher TaxaVaranidae, Platynota, Anguimorpha, Sauria, Squamata (lizards) 
Subspecies 
Common NamesDampier Peninsula Goanna 
SynonymVaranus sparnus DOUGHTY, KEALLEY, FITCH & DONNELLAN 2014
Varanus (Odatria) sparnus — BUCKLITSCH et al. 2016: 50 
DistributionAustralia (Western Australia)

Type locality: Coloumb Point, Dampier Peninsula (-17.5736°, 122.1694°)  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: WAM R168486, adult male; paratypes: WAM. 
CommentDiagnosis: A very small Varanus (< 120 mm SVL) with short limbs, elongate body, ridged, circular and short prehensile tail (TailL/SVL: 0.92–0.99), and relatively plain reddish-brown dorsum with widely scattered small black spots. Further distinguished from V. brevicauda by having a more elongate body, shorter limbs, less robust head, body and tail, and presence of enlarged squarish scales not encircled by granules on front of the arms.

Habitat: alluvial or sandstone deposits, broadly classed as ‘pindan shrubland’; Corymbia sp. low trees over Acacia monticola, A. colei, A. eriopoda tall open scrub over mixed open grassland, on pindan soil on plain (Doughty et al. 2014).

Behavior: this species is a highly active burrower, excavating underneath all hard structures, such as flat pieces of wood and a heating stone; the animals were constantly moving and rarely paused; the tail is highly prehensile, similar to that of V. brevicauda (Doughty et al. 2014).

Similar species: V. brevicauda 
EtymologyFrom Greek “sparnos” for ‘rare’ or ‘scarce’, in reference to this species’ isolation and small range on the Dampier Peninsula. Latinized to sparnus, and used as an adjective. 
References
  • Doughty, Paul; Luke Kealley, Alison Fitch and Stephen C. Donnellan 2014. A new diminutive species of Varanus from the Dampier Peninsula, western Kimberley region, Western Australia. Rec. West. Aust. Mus. 29: 128–140 - get paper here
 
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