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Acontias litoralis BROADLEY & GREER, 1969

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Acontinae; Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Coastal Dwarf Legless Skink 
SynonymAcontias litoralis BROADLEY & GREER 1969: 25
Acontias lineatus BOULENGER 1905: 254 (part.)
Acontias litoralis — WHITING et al. 2003
Microacontias litoralis — DANIELS et al. 2006
Acontias litoralis — LAMB et al. 2010 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa (W Cape coastal strip from Daberas, south to Elandsbaai)

Type locality: “5 miles east of Port Nolloth”  
TypesHolotype: DNMNH (= TM) 18002; paratypes: TM, UM 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. A small species belonging to the Acontias lineatus group, but distinguished from all races of A. lineatus by its low ventral count (145-160). It differs from A. I. lineatus and A. I. grayi, but agrees with A. I. tristis in having only four upper labials. It also differs from A. lineatus in colour pattern (Broadley & Greer 1969).

Description. (Paratype variations in parentheses.) Head one and a half times as long as broad (length measured from tip of snout to posterior border of parietals); snout obtusely pointed, with a sharp horizontal edge extending well beyond end of lower jaw. Rostral very large, length sub-equal to that of prefrontal, frontal and interparietal together; a single supraocular, two (usually three) supraciliaries; two suboculars; four upper labials; mental large, its posterior border level with that of the rostral, bordered by three chin shields; three lower labials. Body slender, with a length/diameter ratio of 30 (21-27), covered with smooth, imbricate scales in 12 (usually 14) rows at midbody; ventrals 157 (146-157); tail flattened below, slightly tapered, with a pointed tip; subcaudals 37 (34-40). Top of head and labials largely yellow, sides of head dark brown, four median dorsal scale rows and superior halves of adjoining rows dark brown; ventrum yellow except for a broad dark brown subcaudal band (this colour pattern is also found in paratypes TM. 18000-1). Most paratypes are uniform yellow, except for dark pre-ocular stripes, which may meet on the snout (Broadley & Greer 1969). 
CommentLimb morphology: Limbless. 
EtymologyNamed after the Latin noun litus, litoris, meaning "shore", referring to the habitat of the species. 
  • 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.
  • Bauer, A.M., and Branch, W.R. 2003. The herpetofauna of the Richtersveld National Park, Northern Cape Province, Republic of South Africa. Herpetological Natural History 8: 111-160 [2001]
  • Broadley, D. G. and Greer, A. E. 1969. A revision of the genus Acontias Cuvier (Sauria: Scincidae). Arnoldia Rhodesia 4 (26): 1-29.
  • Daniels, Savel R.; Neil J. L. Heideman, Martin G. J. Hendricks, Keith A. Crandall 2006. Taxonomic subdivisions within the fossorial skink subfamily Acontinae (Squamata: Scincidae) reconsidered: a multilocus perspective. Zoologica Scripta 35 (4): 353 - get paper here
  • Heideman, N.J.L. et al. 2008. Sexual dimorphism in the African legless skink subfamily Acontiinae (Reptilia: Scincidae). African Zoology 43 (2): 192–201 - get paper here
  • Lamb, T.; Biswas, S. & Bauer, A.M. 2010. A phylogenetic reassessment of African fossorial skinks in the subfamily Acontinae (Squamata: Scincidae): evidence for parallelism and polyphyly. Zootaxa 2657: 33–46 - get paper here
  • MASHININI, L. 2010. Microacontias litoralis (Broadley & Greer, 1969) Maximum size. African Herp News (51): 15 - get paper here
  • MASHININI, P.L., HEIDEMAN, N.J.L., & MOUTON, P.L.N. 2011. On some ecological aspects of the coastal legless lizard Acontias litoralis (Scincidae: Acontinae). African Herp News (53): 16-21 - get paper here
  • Mashinini, Phomolo L., Neil J. L. Heideman and P. le Fras N. Mouton. 2008. Analysis of intraspecific colour variation in the fossorial Coastal Legless Lizard, Microacontias litoralis (Scincidae: Acontiinae). African Journal of Herpetology 57(2):115-122 - get paper here
  • Wagner, Philipp; Donald G. Broadley, and Aaron M. Bauer 2012. A New Acontine Skink from Zambia (Scincidae: Acontias Cuvier, 1817). Journal of Herpetology 46 (4): 494-502. - get paper here
  • Whiting, A.S.; Aaron M. Bauer and Jack W. Sites, Jr. 2003. Phylogenetic relationships and limb loss in sub-Saharan African scincine lizards (Squamata: Scincidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 29 (3): 582-598 - get paper here
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