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Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae (DE VIS, 1890)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Sphenomorphini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Prickly Skink, Prickly Forest Skink 
SynonymTropidophorus queenslandiae DE VIS 1890
Tropidophorus queenslandiae — COGGER 1983: 193
Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae — WELLS & WELLINGTON 1984
Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae — COGGER 2000: 499
Gyneptoscincus [sic] queenslandiae — PIANKA & VITT 2003: 222
Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae — COUPER et al. 2006: 381
Concinnia queenslandiae — SKINNER et al. 2013
Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae — COGGER 2014: 571
Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae — CHAPPLE et al. 2021 
DistributionAustralia (Queensland)

Type locality: Bellenden Ker and Herberton, Qld.  
Reproductionovovivparous (live-bearing), giving birth to 1-5 young in the late wet season (January-March). 
TypesLectotype: QM J252, designation by Wells & Wellington (1985). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Gnypetoscincus gen. nov. a monotypic genus confined to north eastern Queensland where it inhabits relict tropical rainforest. Distinguished from all other Australian skinks by having the following combination of characters; pentadactyl limbs; dorsal and lateral scales with a high keel including those of throat and ventrals; the strongly keeled dorsals give the appearance of a granular or tubercular appearance, but the ventrals have only low keels by comparison. The prefrontals are small and divided by a distinctive azygous shield; five supraoculars; the frontal may be complete or divided anteriorly to form 3 shields, the post mental is in contact with 2 infralabials; preanals greatly enlarged; live bearing; reaches 80 mm snout vent length; iris dark. This species lives in deeply shaded rainforest gullies where it shuns direct sunlight being most often found beneath rotting logs. This species rapidly succumbs to sudden changes in temperature indicating a very low preferred body temperature. A colour plate of Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae can be found in Swanson (1976) PI. 38 and in Cogger (1983) PI. 168.” (Wells & Wellington 1984: 96) 
CommentHabitat: rainforests, under and within rotting logs (Naylor, 1980; Cogger, 2000).

Behavior: Individuals show strong site-fidelity (Sumner and Moritz, unpublished data, cited in Sumner et al.).

Vocalization: this species is one of the few skinks which produce sounds when captured (O’Connor 2003).

Limb morphology: 5 digits, 5 toes (Singhal et al. 2018, Brandley et al 2008)

Phylogenetics: Gnypetoscincus nests within Concinnia in studies by Skiner et al. 2013 and Torkkola et al. 2022, but the support for this placement is still too low for confident taxonomic changes.

Type species: Tropidophorus queenslandiae DE VIS 1890 is the type species of the genus Gnypetoscincus WELLS & WELLINGTON 1984: 96. 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality. 
  • Chapple, David G; Roll, Uri; Böhm, Monika; Aguilar, Rocío Amey, Andrew P Austin, Chris C Baling, Marleen Barley, Anthony J Bates, Michael F Bauer, Aaron M Blackburn, Daniel G Bowles, Phil Brown, Rafe M Chandramouli, S R Chirio, Laurent Cogger, Hal Co 2021. Conservation Status of the World’s Skinks (Scincidae): Taxonomic and Geographic Patterns in Extinction Risk. Biological Conservation 257: 109101 - get paper here
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • Couper, P., Covacevich, J., Amey, A. & Baker, A. 2006. The genera of skinks (Family Scincidae) of Australia and its island territories: diversity, distribution and identification. in: Merrick, J.R., Archer, M., Hickey, G.M. & Lee, M.S.Y. (eds.). Evolution and Zoogeography of Australasian Vertebrates. Australian Scientific Publishing, Sydney, pp. 367-384
  • Covacevich J A; Couper P J; James C 1993. A new skink, Nangura spinosa gen. et sp. nov, from a dry rainforest of southeastern Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 34 (1): 159-167 - get paper here
  • Cunningham, Michael 1993. Reproductive biology of the Prickly Forest Skink, Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae, an endemic species from northern Queensland. Mem. Queensland Mus. 34(1): 131-138 - get paper here
  • de Vis, C. W. 1890. Descriptions of two lizards of genera new to Australian Herpetology. Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 4: 1034-1036 [1889] - get paper here
  • Freeman, A. N., Freeman, A. B., & Shoo, L. P. 2021. Prickly Skink (Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae) use of supplemental coarse woody debris in rainforest restoration sites. Ecological Management & Restoration - get paper here
  • Gemel, R.; G. Gassner & S. Schweiger 2019. Katalog der Typen der Herpetologischen Sammlung des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien – 2018. Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien, B 121: 33–248
  • Greer, A. E. 1979. A phylogenetic subdivision of Australian skinks. Rec. Austral. Mus. 32: 339-371 - get paper here
  • Muñoz, M. M., Langham, G. M., Brandley, M. C., Rosauer, D. F., Williams, S. E. and Moritz, C. 2016. Basking behavior predicts the evolution of heat tolerance in Australian rainforest lizards. Evolution, 70: 2537–2549.doi:10.1111/evo.13064 - get paper here
  • Naylor, L.M. 1980. The maintenance of a group of prickly forest skinks (Tropidophorus queenslandiae de Vis), in captivity. Thylacinus, J Aust. Soc. Zookeepers 5: 5-6
  • O’Connor, Dave 2003. Vocalisation and aggression in the Prickly Forest Skink Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae. Australian Zoologist 32 (2): 265 - get paper here
  • Pianka, E.R. & Vitt, L.J. 2003. Lizards - Windows to the Evolution of Diversity. University of California Press, Berkeley, 347 pp. [review in Copeia 2004: 955] - get paper here
  • Reeder, T.W. 2003. A phylogeny of the Australian Sphenomorphus group (Scincidae: Squamata) and the phylogenetic placement of the crocodile skinks (Tribolonotus): Bayesian approaches to assessing congruence and obtaining confidence in maximum likelihood inferred relatio Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 27: 384–397 - get paper here
  • Singhal, Sonal; Huateng Huang, Maggie R. Grundler, María R. Marchán-Rivadeneira, Iris Holmes, Pascal O. Title, Stephen C. Donnellan, and Daniel L. Rabosky 2018. Does Population Structure Predict the Rate of Speciation? A Comparative Test across Australia’s Most Diverse Vertebrate Radiation. The American Naturalist - get paper here
  • Skinner, Adam; Mark N. Hutchinson, Michael S.Y. Lee 2013. Phylogeny and Divergence Times of Australian Sphenomorphus Group Skinks (Scincidae, Squamata). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69 (3): 906–918 - get paper here
  • Sumner, Joanna ; Craig Moritz, Richard Shine 1999. Shrinking forest shrinks skink: morphological change in response to rainforest fragmentation in the prickly forest skink (Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae). Biological Conservation 91:159-167 - get paper here
  • Torkkola, J. J., Wilmer, J. W., Hutchinson, M. N., Couper, P. J., & Oliver, P. M. 2022. Die on this hill? A new monotypic, microendemic and montane vertebrate genus from the Australian Wet Tropics. Zoologica Scripta 51, 483– 497 - get paper here
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
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