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Carlia aenigma ZUG, 2004

IUCN Red List - Carlia aenigma - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Eugongylinae (Eugongylini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymCarlia aenigma ZUG 2004: 53 
DistributionPapua New Guinea (west central Gulf coast from Kikori R. westward to Aramia R.).

Type locality: Papua New Guinea, Western Province, Emeti.  
TypesHolotype: MCZ R141880 
DiagnosisDescription. A moderate-sized Carlia ranging in adult size from 44 to 58 mm SVL (females 44.2–55.6; males 50.2–57.5) with HeadL 22–30%, TrunkL 40–51%, and HndlL 44–57% of SVL, and 85–200% PalpbD of EarD. Populations sexually dimorphic in HeadL, PalpbD, HndlL, HeadL/SVL, TrunkL/SVL, and Dorsal. Head and nuchal scales smooth; interparietal always present; 4 Supoc, 7–9 Supcil, 7–12 Eyeld, 7 (rarely 6) Suplab, 5th (rarely 4th) BlwEye, and 6 (rarely 7) Inflab on each side. Ear opening oblong vertical to oblique with 1–5 AuricN, bluntly pointed, on anterior and dorsal margin. Trunk scales smooth to weakly tricarinate dorsally and laterally: 44–51 Dorsal, 32–36 Midbody. Subdigital lamellae undivided, smooth: 18–26 3FingL, 24–34 4ToeL.
Juvenile dorsum uniform brown to indistinctly dark flecked or lined, dorsolateral white stripe from head to anterior trunk, interrupted midneck above broad dark brown lateral band marked with scattering of white spots and bars on trunk; venter dusky. Adults monomorphic with darker juvenile pattern, often with anterior half of lateral band with reddish hue; venter dusky, edge of chin and throat occasionally black or black-streaked in males.

Comparison to related species. Carlia aenigma populations differ from those of the larger bodied C. beccarii, C. eothen and C. luctuosa, and the smaller bodied C. leucotaenia and C. tutela by adult females averaging 49 to 51 mm SVL; females and males are on the average equal-sized. C. aenigma populations share: an average of 33 to 35 Midbody with all other fusca complex species except C. luctuosa; an average of 20 to 22 3FingL with all except C. beccarii; and an average of 28 to 32 4ToeL with all except C. beccarii, C. longipes, and C. luctuosa. Unlike juveniles of all other fusca complex members, juvenile C. aenigma have a dorsolateral light stripe from eye to midneck, a break, and then onto anterior trunk; and unlike other fusca complex members, the midlateral light “stripe” of juvenile C. aenigma consists of a series of light spots and dashes from eye to inguen. Adult C. aenigma females commonly retain this juvenile pattern although faded. Adult C. aenigma have dusky chins, throats, and venters, differing from the anteriorly darker C. luctuosa, and the lighter ventered C. ailanpalai, C. babarensis, C. beccarii, C. diguliensis, C. fusca, C. leucotaenia, C. longipes, C. mysi, C. pulla, C. tutela, and some populations of C. aramia and C. eothen. 
EtymologyNamed after the Latin noun “aenigma” = mystery or riddle, referring to the unresolved affinities of this taxon with other populations of Carlia. 
  • Austin, Christopher C.; Eric N. Rittmeyer; Lauren A. Oliver; John O. Andermann; George R. Zug; Gordon H. Rodda; Nathan D. Jackson 2011. The bioinvasion of Guam: inferring geographic origin, pace, pattern and process of an invasive lizard (Carlia) in the Pacific using multi-locus genomic data. Biol Invasions 13:1951–1967 - get paper here
  • Dolman, Gaynor & Andrew F. Hugall 2008. Combined mitochondrial and nuclear data enhance resolution of a rapid radiation of Australian rainbow skinks (Scincidae: Carlia). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 49 (3): 782-794 - get paper here
  • Zug,G. R. 2004. Systematics of the Carlia “fusca” lizards (Squamata: Scincidae) of New Guinea and Nearby Islands. Bishop Mus. Bull. Zool. 5: 1-83
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