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Acontias percivali LOVERIDGE, 1935

IUCN Red List - Acontias percivali - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Acontiinae (Acontidae), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Percival's Lance Skink, Teita Limbless skink
tasmani: Tasman's Blindworrn or Legless Skink 
SynonymAcontias percivali LOVERIDGE 1935: 13
Acontias percivali occidentalis — AUERBACH 1987: 104
Acontias percivali percivali — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 17
Acontias percivali — WHITING et al. 2003
Acontias percivalli — HERRMANN & BRANCH 2013 (in error)
Acontias percivali — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 129
Acontias percivali — ZHAO et al. 2023 
DistributionSE Kenya (vicinity of Voi), NE Tanzania (eastern arc mountains) (Spawls et al., 2001).

Type locality: foot of Mount Mbololo, Taita Mountains, Kenya Colony.  
Reproductionovovivparous 
TypesHolotype: MCZ 40174, adult female; Paratypes: ZISP 22163.1-2 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Only separable from meleagris (Linne) of South Africa by its shorter tail and coloration. According to Boulenger (1887, Cat. Snakes Brit. Mus., 3, p. 427) the tail of meleagris is "not more than one fifth of the total," it is included 6.1 to 6.3 times in the total length in examples from the Transvaal and Orange River Colony in the Museum of Comparative Zoology. In forty examples of percivali it ranges from 8.4 to 10 times (average exactly 9). In alcohol percivali has a very broad dorsal band of deep black while below it is pure white; there is no dark spot on each scale resulting in a lineolate or gray appearance as in meleagris. It is important to note that the key character used by Boulenger to separate meleagris and plumbcus of Mozambique is inconstant though the two species are very distinct. In percivali about 25 specimens have the first supraocular larger than the second and third together, in 13 specimens it is equal to, in 3 possibly smaller. In the Museum of Comparative Zoology examples of plumbeus the first supraocular is as large as, or smaller than, the other two; in our meleagris it is as large as, or much larger than, the other two. The range of meleagris is separated by 1,500 miles from that of percivali. (Loveridge 1935)

Description. Head conical; snout obtuse, projecting; ear hidden; rostral enormous, covering the greater part of the snout; mental enormous, its posterior border reaching to below the eye; frontonasal hardly half as long as the rostral, much shorter than the frontal, which is broader than long; supraoculars 3, the first much larger than the two others together (equal to the two others occasionally); supra-ciliaries 4 (on right) or 3 (on left); interparietal much narrower than the frontal, longer than broad (sometimes as broad as long), narrower than the parietals (rarely as broad as); no labials enter the orbit. Midbody scale-rows 18 (16, 17 or 18 in paratypes, average for forty-two skinks 17.5) those of the two median dorsal rows transversely enlarged. A single, very large preanal plate. Limbs absent. Length of tail included 9.6 times in total length (8.4 to 10 times in paratypes). (Loveridge 1935)

Coloration in life. Both adults and young are glossy black above except when about to shed the epidermis. At such times they are bluish gray above, a delicate pink below. Normally the young are reddish orange below, this shade sometimes persisting until they are two-thirds grown. Adults are pale chrome below; very occasionally an individual will be found with a brown centre to each lower scale resulting in the production of a faintly lineolate appearance. For coloration in alcohol see diagnosis above. (Loveridge 1935)

Measurements. Type female. Head and body 234 mm., tail 27 mm. (Loveridge 1935) 
CommentLimb morphology: Limbless.

Subspecies: Acontias percivali occidentalis FITZSIMONS 1941 is now considered as a valid species. 
EtymologyNamed after Arthur Blayney Percival (1874-1940), British game warden in East Africa (1901-1928). 
References
  • Auerbach, R.D. 1987. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Botswana. Mokwepa Consultants, Botswana, 295 pp.
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Branch, W. R. 1991. Life History Note: Acontias percivali tasmani: Size and Predation. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa (39): 23-23 - get paper here
  • Broadley, D. G. & HOWELL, K. M. 1991. A check list of the reptiles of Tanzania, with synoptic keys. Syntarsus 1: 1—70
  • Broadley, D. G. and Greer, A. E. 1969. A revision of the genus Acontias Cuvier (Sauria: Scincidae). Arnoldia Rhodesia 4 (26): 1-29.
  • Broadley, D.G. 1962. On some reptile collections from the North-Western and North-Eastern Districts of Southern Rhodesia 1958-1961, with descriptions of four new lizards. Occ. Pap. Nat. Mus. South. Rhodesia 26 (B): 787-843
  • Daniels, S. R.,Heideman, N. J. L. & Hendricks, M. G. J. 2009. Examination of evolutionary relationships in the Cape fossorial skink species complex (Acontinae: Acontias meleagris meleagris) reveals the presence of five cryptic lineages. Zoologica Scripta 38 (5): 449–463 - get paper here
  • Daniels, S.R.; Neil J.L. Heideman, Martin G.J. Hendricks, Mphalile E. Mokone, Keith A. Crandall 2005. Unraveling evolutionary lineages in the limbless fossorial skink genus Acontias (Sauria: Scincidae): are subspecies equivalent systematic units? Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 34: 645–654 - 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
  • Herrmann, H.-W.; W.R. Branch 2013. Fifty years of herpetological research in the Namib Desert and Namibia with an updated and annotated species checklist. Journal of Arid Environments 93: 94–115 - get paper here
  • Hewitt, J. 1937. Description of new forms of the genus Acontias. Trans. Roy. Soc. S. Africa 26: 39-48
  • Loveridge, A. 1935. Scientific results of an expedition to rain forest regions in Eastern Africa. I. New reptiles and amphibians from East Africa. Bull. Mus. comp. Zool. Harvard 79: 1- 19. - get paper here
  • Mertens,R. 1955. Die Amphibien und Reptilien Südwestafrikas. Aus den Ergebnissen einer im Jahre 1952 ausgeführten Reise. Abh. senckenb. naturf. Ges. (Frankfurt) 490: 1-172 - get paper here
  • Spawls, S. & Rotich, D. 1997. An annotated checklist of the lizards of Kenya. J. East African Nat. Hist. 86: 61-83
  • Spawls, S.; Howell, K.; Drewes, R.C. & Ashe, J. 2002. A field guide to the reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, 543 pp. [reviews in HR 34: 396 and Afr. J. Herp. 51; 147] - get paper here
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
  • Stokely, Paul Scott 1947. Limblessness and correlated changes in the girdles of a comparative morphological series of lizards. American Midland Naturalist 38 (3): 725-754 - get paper here
  • Zhao, Z., Conradie, W., Pietersen, D.W., Jordaan, A., Nicolau, G., Edwards, S., Riekert, S., Heideman, N. 2023. Diversification of the African legless skinks in the subfamily Acontinae (Family Scincidae) Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution - get paper here
 
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