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Acontias albigularis CONRADIE, BUSSCHAU & EDWARDS, 2018

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Acontinae; Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: White-throated Legless Skink 
SynonymAcontias albigularis CONRADIE, BUSSCHAU & EDWARDS 2018
Acontias breviceps — FITZSIMONS 1943
Acontias breviceps — BROADLEY & GREER 1969 (part)
Acontias breviceps — BRANCH 1988 (part)
Acontias breviceps — BRANCH 1994 (part)
Acontias breviceps — BRANCH 1998 (part)
Acontias breviceps — BATES et al. 2014 (part) 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa (Mpumalanga)

Type locality: Mauchsberg, Long Tom Pass, Mpumalanga, South Africa (-25.14113 S 30.60522 E, 2530BA, 2149 m elevation)  
TypesHolotype: PEM R20655, collected by Werner Conradie, Theo Busschau and Adriaan Jordaan on 9 December 2013. Mid ventral incision, otherwise in good condition. Paratypes (12). PEM R20650-2, 20661, Top of Long Tom Pass, Mpumalanga, South Africa (-25,149109 S 30.61938 E, 2530BA, 2206 m asl); PEM R20653-4, 20656-60, 20662, Mauchsberg, Long Tom Pass, Mpumalanga, South Africa (-25.14113 S 30.60522 E, 2530BA, 2149 m asl). All voucher specimens collected by Werner Conradie, Theo Busschau and Adriaan Jordaan on 9 December 2013. All material are adults except for PEM R20651-3 being juveniles. All voucher specimens with mid-ventral incisions and in otherwise good condition. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A medium sized legless skink assigned to the genus Acontias (part) based on the body being moderately attenuate, snout not strongly acutely angled, movable eyelids present, lower eyelid immovable, and overall genetic placement (Lamb et al. 2010; this study). Distinguished from A. jappi (Broadley), A. kgalagadi (Lamb, Biswas & Bauer), A. lineatus Peters (previously included in Typhlosaurus), and A. schmitzi Wagner, Broadley & Bauer in possessing moveable eyelids. It can be distinguished from other congeners possessing moveable eyelids by: ventral pigmentation concentrated at posterior scale margins giving a checkered appearance (all species except A. breviceps and A. sp. 2) compared to dorsally and ventrally uniform (A. plumbeus, A. occidentalis (part)) or no ventral pigmentation (A. gracilicauda, A. meleagris complex, A. lineicauda, A. occidentalis (part), A. namaquensis, and A. percivali Loveridge). It can be distinguished from typical A. breviceps and A. sp. 2 by the lack of pigmentation in the region around the throat and the cloaca, and lower average number of scales around the midbody (14 scales vs 16 in both A. breviceps and A. sp. 2). It differs from A. breviceps in that the second upper label is touching the eye 17 out of 19 (90%) times (vs 1 out of 39 ~5%). In the phylogenetic analysis, it is sister to A. gracilicauda, from which it differs by 2.2 ± 0.6 % (16S mtDNA) and 3.5 ± 0.7 % (Cytb mtDNA) sequence divergence. It further differs 5.3 ± 1.2 % (16S) and 7.0 ± 0.9 % (Cytb) from A. breviceps, and 2.1 ± 0.8 % (16S) and 3.6 ± 0.7 % (Cytb) from. A. sp. 2. 
CommentHabitat. Found in montane grassland under large flat rocks on the Mpumalanga escarpment at an altitude above 2000 m asl. 
EtymologyThe name albigularis is derived from the Latin words: albi (white) and gula (throat), and alludes to the unpigmented gular or throat region of the species, giving it a white throat. 
  • Bates, M.F.; Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M.; Burger, M., Marais, J.; Alexander, G.J. & de Villliers, M.S. (eds.) 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, 512 pp.
  • Branch, W. R. 1998. Field Guide to the Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. 3rd ed. Fully Revised and Updated to Include 83 New Species. Ralph Curtis Books (Sanibel Island, Florida), 399 pp.
  • Branch, W.R. 1994. Field Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. 2nd Edition. Struik, Cape Town, 327 pp
  • Branch,W.R. 1988. Field Guide to the snakes and other reptiles of southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, 328 pp.
  • Broadley, D. G. and Greer, A. E. 1969. A revision of the genus Acontias Cuvier (Sauria: Scincidae). Arnoldia Rhodesia 4 (26): 1-29.
  • Busschau, Theo; Werner Conradie; Adriaan Jordaan, Savel R. Daniels 2016. Unmasking evolutionary diversity among two closely related South African legless skink species (Acontinae: Acontias) using molecular data. Zoology 121:72-82 [print 2017] - get paper here
  • CONRADIE, WERNER; THEO BUSSCHAU, SHELLEY EDWARDS 2018. Two new species of Acontias (Acontinae, Scincidae) from the Mpumalanga Highveld escarpment of South Africa. Zootaxa 4429 (1): 89-106 - get paper here
  • CONRADIE, WERNER; WILLIAM R. BRANCH, & GILLIAN WATSON 2019. Type specimens in the Port Elizabeth Museum, South Africa, including the historically important Albany Museum collection. Part 2: Reptiles (Squamata). Zootaxa 4576 (1): 001–045 - get paper here
  • FitzSimons, V.F. 1943. The lizards of South Africa. Transvaal Museum Memoir No.1 (Pretoria), 528 pp.
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