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Voeltzkowia yamagishii (SAKATA & HIKIDA, 2003)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymSirenoscincus yamagishii SAKATA & HIKIDA 2003
Sirenoscincus yamagishii — SCHMITZ et al. 2005
Voeltzkowia yamagishii — MIRALLES et al. 2015 

Type locality: Ampijoroa, Ankarafantsika Strict Nature Reserve, northwestern Madagascar (16° 20’ S, 46° 48’ E); elevation 100 m.  
TypesHolotype: KUZ R50922 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus Sirenoscincus): The new genus is a member of the subfamily Scincinae (Greer, 1970). I t is distinguished from all other taxa in this group by the following combination of characters in derived states (polarity for each of these characters was inferred as relative to Eumeces, the putative primitive genus of the family: Greer and Broadley, 2000). Body highly elongated (SVL 11.6-14.0 times head length) with 53 presacral vertebrae; original tail slightly longer than SVL; snout pointed, lower jaw counter-sunk; neck indistinguishable externally; body scales smooth and transparent without pigmentation; 20 longitudinal scale rows at midbody. Forelimb small (approximately 4.70/0 of SVL) with indistinct fingers and four stout claws; no hind limbs, shallow groove in their position in other scincines; prefrontals absent; nasal sharply pointed, triangular, positioned at V-shaped notch of rostral; nostril positioned at anterior tip of nasal; frontonasal as large as frontal; frontoparietal absent; loreal single; supraoculars two; superciliaries and movable lower eyelid absent; eye covered with two oculars; supralabials six; infralabials five, anterior three higher than posterior two; external ear opening covered by scales, but small ear groove visible through transparent scale; postmental single. 
CommentEyeless, no ear opening, no hindlimbs, forelimbs with only 4 digits (the only Malagasy skink with completely reduced hindlimbs but exhibiting forelimbs).

Type species: Sirenoscincus yamagishii SAKATA & HIKIDA 2003 is the type species of the genus Sirenoscincus SAKATA & HIKIDA 2003. 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is dedicated to Dr. Satoshi Yamagishi, who was a professor of Kyoto University and the project leader of Ecological Surveys in Ampijoroa, Ankarafantsika Strict Nature Reserve, in which both of the type specimens were obtained.

The generic name Sirenoscincus is derived from the Latin words, siren (mermaid) and scincus (skink), referring to the unique body shape of the type species with forelimbs only. 
  • Belluardo, F., Muñoz-Pajares, A. J., Miralles, A., Silvestro, D., Cocca, W., Ratsoavina, F. M., ... & Crottini, A. 2022. Slow and steady wins the race: Diversification rate is independent from body size and lifestyle in Malagasy skinks (Squamata: Scincidae: Scincinae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 107635 - get paper here
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Gardner CJ, Raxworthy CJ, Metcalfe K, Raselimanana AP, Smith RJ, Davies ZG 2015. Comparing Methods for Prioritising Protected Areas for Investment: A Case Study Using Madagascar’s Dry Forest Reptiles. PLoS One 10 (7): e0132803, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132803 - get paper here
  • Miralles A, Hipsley CA, Erens J, Gehara M, Rakotoarison A, Glaw F, et al. 2015. Distinct Patterns of Desynchronized Limb Regression in Malagasy Scincine Lizards (Squamata, Scincidae). PLoS One 10 (6): e0126074. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126074 - get paper here
  • Rakotoarison, Andolalao; Jesse Erens, Fanomezana M. Ratsoavina, Miguel Vences 2015. Amphibian and reptile records from around the Betsiboka delta area in North-Western Madagascar. Herpetology Notes 8: 535-543 - get paper here
  • Sakata, Shuichi & Hikida, Tsutomu 2003. A fossorial lizard with forelimbs only: description of a new genus and species of Malagasy skink (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae). Current Herpetology 22 (1): 9-15 - get paper here
  • Schmitz, A.; M.C. Brandley; P. Mausfeld; M. Vences; F. Glaw; R.A. Nussbaum and T.W. Reeder 2005. Opening the black box: phylogenetics and morphological evolution of the Malagasy fossorial lizards of the subfamily “Scincinae”. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34: 118–133 (published online 2004) - get paper here
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