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Eutropis palauensis BARLEY, DIESMOS, SILER, MARTINEZ & BROWN, 2020

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Mabuyinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Palau Sun Skink 
SynonymEutropis palauensis BARLEY, DIESMOS, SILER, MARTINEZ & BROWN 2020: 56
Mabuia multicarinata — STERNFELD 1918: 395 [in part, misidentification]
Mabuya multicarinata multicarinata — BROWN & ALCALA 1980: 126 [in part, by implication]
Mabuya sp. — CROMBIE & PREGILL 1999: 59 [misidentification]
Eutropis sp. — MAUSFELD & SCHMITZ 2003: 165 [misidentification] 
DistributionCaroline Islands (Fais Island and Ulithi Atoll), Palau Archipelago (Babeldaob, Beliliou, Ngcheangel, Ngercheu, Oreor, Pulo Anna, Sonsorol)

Type locality: west coast road north of Dilong Village, Ngcheangel Atoll, Ngcheangel Island, Kayangel State Caroline Islands, Palau (8.0894368N, 134.71598E)  
TypesHolotype: CAS 248251, Male, collected by R.I. Crombie, 29 August 2007.
Paratypes.—Thirteen specimens, all from Palau. CAS 238095, 238097, 238098, 238099, 238100, 238101, collected by R.I. Crombie, 27 March 2006, Ngercheu Island, Belau Caroline Islands. CAS 254721, collected by R.I. Crombie, 17 June 2012, Ulimang village, Babeldaob Island, Ngaraad State (7.6225338N, 134.64258E). CAS 237940, 237941, collected by R.I. Crombie, 25 November 2005, Carp Island, Ngercheu Islands. CAS 238220, collected by R.I. Crombie, 1 June 2006, Dilong Village, Ngerebelas Island, Ngcheangel Atoll (8.0825838N, 134.71768E). CAS 248808, collected by R.I. Crombie, 27 April 2008, Ulimang village, Babeldaob Island, Ngaraad State (7.6222838N, 134.64278E). CAS 248247, 248248, collected by R.I. Crombie, 28 August 2007, Dilong village, Ngcheangel Island, Ngcheangel Atoll (8.0827178N, 134.71748E). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A species of Eutropis distinguished by the following combination of characters: (1) body medium-sized (SVL 45–80 mm in adults); (2) interparietal large, separating parietals; (3) paravertebrals 39–46; (4) sum of subdigital lamellae on all five toes of one foot 76–90; (5) ventral scale rows 26–30; (6) midbody scale rows 30–34; (7) keels on dorsal and lateral body scales moderately defined, 5–10 per scale; (8) lower eyelid scaly; (9) supraciliaries 5–7; (10) prefrontals separated; (11) primary temporal scales one or two; (12) dorsal and lateral body surface with relatively uniform bronze to olive coloration, respectively, usually without extensive, pronounced light or dark stripes (Fig. 7).

Comparisons: Eutropis palauensis appears to be the only species of Eutropis found in the Palau and Caroline Archipelagos. Although some museum specimens have previously been erroneously identified as the widespread species E. multifasciata, this species does not appear to be present, and can be distinguished by having fewer keels on the trunk dorsals (3 in E. multifasciata vs. 5–9 in E. palauensis; Crombie and Pregill 1999). As a member of the E. multicarinata complex, E. palauensis can be distinguished from species in the E. indeprensa complex by its larger (45– 80 mm SVL) adult body size (vs. 45–70 mm in E. lapulapu and 48–64 mm in E. indeprensa) and typically more numerous toe lamellae (76–90 vs. 70–80 in E. lapulapu and 71–83 in E. indeprensa). Within the E. multicarinata complex, E. palauensis is most closely related to E. caraga (Fig. 5). Compared to that species (and others in the complex), the dark lateral band is generally more reduced (being distinct and extending from the eye to the hindlimb in E. caraga vs. less distinct and only extending to the forelimb in E. palauensis; Fig. 7). The prefrontal scales in E. palauensis also tend to be more widely separated than species in the E. multicarinata complex. The sister relationship between E. caraga and E. palauensis makes biogeographic sense (given that Mindanao is the most geographically proximate Philippine Island); however, these two species are highly genetically distinct (Barley et al. 2013) and geographically separated by .500 miles, and thus, are clearly on distinct evolutionary trajectories.

Coloration in life: Dorsal ground coloration and tail an iridescent bronze to olive coloration, with few dark brown flecks, lighter on lateral edge; head and neck brown. The lateral surfaces contain a mottled, dark brown band extending from the eye posteriorly, becoming broken and fading past the forelimb. Chin and venter bluish to creamy with few dark markings. Dorsal surfaces of forelimbs, hindlimbs, and digits bronze to brown with indistinct spots. 
EtymologyWe derive the new species’ specific epithet from the Republic of Palau from which this species is known. The species’ epithet is feminine in gender. 
  • Barley, A. J., Diesmos, A. C., Siler, C. D., Martinez, C. M. & Brown, R. M. 2020. Taxonomic Revision of Philippine Sun Skinks (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae: Eutropis), and Descriptions of Eight New Species. Herpetol. Monogr. 34: 39–70
  • Brown, WC. & A.C. ALCALA 1980. Philippine Lizards of the family Scincidae. Silliman Univ. Nat. Sci., Dumaguete City, Mon., Ser. 2: i-xi + 1-246.
  • Crombie, Ronald I. and Gregory K. Pregill 1999. A Checklist of the Herpetofauna of the Palau Islands (Republic of Belau), Oceania. Herpetological Monographs 13: 29-80 - get paper here
  • MAUSFELD, Patrick & Andreas SCHMITZ 2003. Molecular phylogeography, intraspecific variation and speciation of the Asian scincid lizard genus Eutropis Fitzinger, 1843 (Squamata: Reptilia: Scincidae): taxonomic and biogeographic implications. Org. Divers. Evol. 3: 161–171
  • Sternfeld, R. 1918. Zur Tiergeographie Papuasiens und der pazifischen Inselwelt. Abh. senckenb. naturf. Ges. (Frankfurt) 36: 375-436 - get paper here
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