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Eutropis dawsoni (ANNANDALE, 1909)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Mabuyinae (Mabuyini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Gans’ grass skink 
SynonymLygosoma dawsoni ANNANDALE 1909: 257
Mabuya gansi DAS 1991
Eutropis gansi — MAUSFELD et al. 2002
Eutropis gansi — BATUWITA 2016
Eutropis dawsoni — GANESH et al. 2021 
DistributionS India (Tamil Nadu, Kerala)

Type locality: Maddathorai (= Madathara), Shashthamcottah and Tenmalai, Kerala

gansi: Type locality: 2 km NW of Muthalar Road Cross off Sengaltheri-Thalayanai road (towards Moolakasam), Kalkkad Tiger Reserve, Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu State, India.  
TypesLectotype: ZSI 16170 and paralectotypes ZSI 16140, 16171 of Lygosoma dawsoni Annandale, 1909.
Holotype: ZSI 24826 [gansi] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A relatively larger species of Eutropis (adult SVL 61 mm) from the Southern Western Ghats, characterised by: a fairly robust and cylindrical body with well-developed limbs; dorsal scales with 5-6 strong keels with 3 pointed spurs projecting behind; post-nasal absent; supra-nasals and pre-frontals separated; fronto-parietals are in contact with each other; inter-parietal completely separating parietals; one pair of broad nuchals; temporal scales with 3-4 keels; ear-hole as large as lateral scale with 3-4 short, pointed anterior lobules; lower eyelids scaly with a series of opaque scales; mid-ventrals: 39-45; 4th toe subdigital lamellae: 14-16; dorsum dark grey-brown without any spots; dark grey-brown lateral stripe extending from posterior corner of eye to a little behind hind limbs (Ganesh et al. 2021).

Description and Variation: A fairly robust skink with an elongated and cylindrical body. Head indistinct from neck. Snout not depressed but obtusely pointed. Snout length exceeding eye-tympanum distance. Limbs well-developed. Fore and hind limbs touch each other. Dorsal, lateral and ventral scales almost equal in size. Dorsal scales with 5-6 strong keels with 3 pointed spurs projecting behind. Lateral scales with 5-6 strong keels with 3 pointed spurs projecting behind. Ventral scales hexagonal with 3 weak keels. Paravertebrals: 32-34. Ventrals: 39-45. Midbody scale rows: 27-30. Nostril in posterior part of nasal. Postnasal absent. Rostral more than twice as high as wide, curving up onto the dorsal surface of head, its posterior margin semicircular. Rostral is in contact with first supralabial, nasal, supranasal and frontonasal. Supranasals small and widely separated. Supranasal is in contact with rostral, nasal, frontonasal and anterior loreal. Frontonasal as wide as long and forming a broad margin with rostral anteriorly and with frontal posteriorly. Frontonasal in contact with rostral, supranasal, anterior loreal, prefrontal and frontal. Prefrontals not in contact with each other. Prefrontal in contact with frontonasal, both loreal (anterior and posterior), frontal, first supraocular (broadly) and first supraciliary (narrowly). Frontal large and arrow-shaped, posteriorly rounded. Frontal larger than frontoparietal and interparietal together, in contact with frontonasal, prefrontal, 2nd supraocular and frontoparietal. Frontoparietals in contact with each other, larger than interparietal. Frontoparietal in contact with frontal, 2nd supraocular narrowly, 3rd and 4th supraocular broadly, parietal and interparietal. Interparietal longer than wide, completely separating parietals. Parietal in contact with frontoparietal, 4th supraocular, temporal, nuchal and interparietal. One pair of broad nuchals. 8-9 keels on each nuchal. 4 supraoculars, 2nd the largest. Anterior loreal higher than wide but much higher than the posterior. Posterior loreal is 2.5 times wider than anterior. Anterior loreal in contact with 1st supralabial slightly, 2nd supralabial broadly, supranasal, frontonasal, prefrontal and posterior loreal. Posterior loreal in contact with 2nd, 3rd and 4th supralabial, anterior loreal, prefrontal, 1st supraciliary and preocular. One preocular and one presubocular. 3 postoculars. 5-6 supraciliaries, 1st the largest but 3rd the longest. Temporal scales with 3-4 keels. 6 supralabials, the 5th is the largest and situated below eye. Earhole is round, as large as lateral scale and tympanum is deeply sunk, with 3-4 short, pointed anterior lobules. Eyelids well-developed and movable. Lower eyelids scaly with a series of opaque scales. 6 infralabials. Mental wider than long. Postmental is wider than long. Post-mental is in contact with 1st and 2nd infralabials. First chin shields divided by a single row of ventral scales. First chin shield in contact with 2nd and 3rd infralabials; 2nd chin shields divided by a single row of ventral scales, in contact with 3rd and 4th infralabials; 3rd chin shields divided by 3-4 rows of ventral scales, in contact with 4th and 5th infralabials. Forelimbs long, dorsally covered with 2-3 keels, ventrally smooth. Relative length of fingers IV>III>II>V>I. Hind limbs are long. Scales on dorsal surface of hind limbs with 2-3 keels. Scales on ventral surface of hind limbs are smooth. Scales on palm and sole rounded. Relative length of toes IV>III>V>II>I. Number of lamellae under 4th toe: 14-16. Precloacal scales not enlarged. Tail thick but gradually becomes pointed at the tip. Tail slightly longer than the body. Subcaudals not enlarged (Ganesh et al. 2021).

Colouration: Forehead, dorsum of body and tail grey-brown without any spots. A dark grey-brown lateral stripe from posterior corner of eye to a little behind the insertion of the hind limb. A pale yellow margin below the dark stripe from the upper lip passing below the ear opening and extending uptothe area above the fore-limb. A pink wash on the side of the throat. Ventrally cream (Figures 4 and 5). Nuptial males with scarlet red gular wash and bright black lateral bands (Ganesh et al. 2021).

Comparisons: A species belonging to the E. macularia clade (Datta-Roy et al., 2012; Barley et al., 2014), distinguished from other peninsular Indian members of the E. macularia clade as follows, only opposing character suites listed: E. brevis (smaller SVL not exceeding 37 mm; dorsal body scales with only 3-5 keels; each scale without spurs behind; tympanum smaller a lateral body scale without any anterior tympanic lobules; head length subequal to its width; fore-arm length subequal to lower arm length; shank length subequal to thigh length); E. clivicola (Smaller SVL upto 55 mm; dorsal body scales 5-7 feeble keels; each scale without projecting spurs behind; tympanum with 2-3 visible anterior tympanic lobules, a distinct half vertebral stripe on trunk; prefrontals in narrow contact with each other; interparietal in broad contact with nuchal; lower eyelid scaly with the central scale not enlarged than surrounding ones; dorsal scales feebly pentacarinate); E. allapallensis (frontoparietals fused; dorsal scale rows as low as 26); E. macularia (larger SVL upto 70 mm; dorsal body scales 5-9 keels; each scale without projecting spurs behind; tympanum larger than or at least equal to a lateral body scale with 2-3 indistinguishable anterior tympanic lobules, much lower 4th toe subdigital scale count 12–14; para-vertebrals scale count much higher: 39–41; midventral scale count much higher: upto 51). Additionally, E. dawsoni is distinct from the geographically proximate Sri Lankan members of the E. macularia clade, namely, E. madraszi, E. austini and E. greeri by: pretemporals in contact with parietal; first pair of chin shields separated by a median scale; E. tammanna: prefrontals in contact with each other (Ganesh et al. 2021).

Diagnosis (gansi): SVL to 62.6 mm; prefrontals not in contact; midbody scale rows 30; a two-scale wide dark grey lateral stripe and labial; and gular regions not flame scarlet) [from DAS et al. 2008] 
CommentSynonymy: Eutropis dawsoni has been considered a synonym of Eutropis (or Mabuya) macularia at least since Smith 1935, but revalidated by Ganesh et al. 2021. See also Eutropis macularia. 
EtymologyE. dawsoni was named after Lieut.-Col. F.W. Dawson, the then Director of Trivandrum Museum, with whom Annandale conducted the expedition on which he found this species.

E. gansi was named after Carl Gans (1923-2009), German-born American herpetologist. See Adler et al. 2010 for obituaries. 
  • Annandale, N. 1909. Report on a small collection of lizards from Travancore. Records of the Indian Museum 3: 253-257 - get paper here
  • Batuwita, Sudesh 2016. Description of Two New Species of Eutropis (Reptilia: Scincidae) from Sri Lanka with a Redescription of Eutropis madaraszi (Méhely). Journal of Herpetology 50 (3): 486-496. - get paper here
  • Das I. 1991. A new species of Mabuya from Tamil Nadu State, Southern India (Squamata: Scincidae). Journal of Herpetology 25 (3): 342-344. - get paper here
  • Ganesh, S. R.; Kaushik Deuti, N. S. Achyuthan, Patrick Campbell, Sujoy Raha, Probhat Bag and Sudipta Debnath 2021. Taxonomic reassessment of Eutropis macularia (Blyth, 1853) complex in the Western Ghats of India: Resurrection of Eutropis brevis (Günther, 1875), Eutropis dawsoni (Annandale, 1909) and synonymisation of Eutropis gansi (Das, 1991) (Reptilia: Squamata Rec. zool. Surv. India 121(3): 363–374 - get paper here
  • Mausfeld, Patrick; Andreas SCHMITZ; Wolfgang BÖHME; Bernhard MISOF; Davor VRCIBRADIC; Carlos Frederico Duarte ROCHA 2002. Phylogenetic Affinities of Mabuya atlantica Schmidt, 1945, Endemic to the Atlantic Ocean Archipelago of Fernando de Noronha (Brazil): Necessity of Partitioning the Genus Mabuya Fitzinger, 1826 (Scincidae: Lygosominae). Zool. Anz. 241: 281–293 - get paper here
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