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Heremites vittatus (OLIVIER, 1804)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Mabuyinae (Mabuyini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Bridled Mabuya, Bridled Skink 
SynonymScincus vittatus OLIVIER 1804: 58
Euprepes olivieri DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1839: 674
Heremites vittatus — GRAY 1845: 110, 113
Euprepes olivieri — GRAVENHORST 1851: 327
Euprepes (Euprepis) Libanoticus PETERS 1864: 51 (fide BOULENGER 1887)
Euprepes vittatus — PETERS 1864
Euprepes vittatus — PETERS 1867: 20
Euprepes vittatus — PETERS 1874: 372
Euprepes vittatus — PETERS 1878: 204
Euprepes vittatus — BOETTGER 1880: 187
Euprepes vittatus — PETERS 1882: 70
Euprepes (Euprepis) vittatus — BÖTTGER 1885: 470
Mabuia vittata —BOULENGER 1887: 176
Eurprepes Tomardi — HEMPRICH & EHRENBERG in TORNIER 1899
Mabuia vittata — BOULENGER 1920
Mabuya vittata — BUDACK 1973
Mabuya vittata — SCHLEICH, KÄSTLE & KABISCH 1996: 354
Mabuya vittata — ANDERSON 1999
Mabuya vittata — GREER et al. 2000
Eutropis vittata — MAUSFELD et al. 2002
Mabuya vittata — BONETTI 2002: 159
Trachylepis vittata — BAUER 2003
Mabuya vittata — KUMLUTAS et al. 2004
Euprepis [sic] vittatus — SCHLÜTER 2005
Mabuya vittata — SINDACO & JEREMČENKO 2008
Trachylepis vittata — BAHA EL DIN 2013
Heremites vittatus — KARIN et al. 2016
Heremites vittatus — SPEYBROECK et al. 2020 
DistributionTurkey, Cyprus,
NE Algeria, Tunisia, N Egypt (incl. Sinai),
SW Syria, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Jordan, Iraq, W Iran (Zagros Mountains and westwards)

Type locality: sands west of Rosetta [= Rashid, Egypt]  
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 197 (2791), Egypt, collector unknown.
Holotype: ZMB [E. libanoticus] 
DiagnosisDescription (genus Heremites). Medium sized, robust terrestrial and climbing skinks with well developed pentadactyl limbs; 26–27 presacral vertebrae; neck indistinct; 32–40 midbody scale rows; dorsal scales tricarinate (although may be smooth on some parts of the body); ventral scales smooth; ear visible; lower eyelid with enlarged, undivided transparent scale window; four supraocular scales, second largest; 4–6 supraciliary scales; postnasal scale absent; third subocular contacts lip, longer than preceding supralabials, not narrowed inferiorly; parietal scale overlaps anterior temporal scale; one or more pairs of enlarged nuchal scales present; enlarged, differentiated heel scales absent; scales on palms and soles not spinose; subdigital lamellae smooth; tail length typically 125–150% SVL; some longitudinal striping usually present (absent in some individuals or populations) (Karin et al. 2016).

Comparisons (genera). Heremites differs from Mabuya in the number of presacral vertebrae (26– 27 vs. > 27, respectively) and from most species by having keeled (versus smooth) dorsal scales (Greer et al., 2000; Mausfeld et al., 2002); from Eumecia in having pentadactyl limbs (versus limb and digital reduction) and Eumecia and Eutropis by having an undivided transparent disk in the lower eyelid and tricarinate dorsal scales (versus lower eyelid scaly or having greater or less than three keels on dorsal scales); from Dasia and Toenayar by the absence of enlarged heel scales in males; and from Chioninia and Vietnascincus by having 32–40 midbody scale rows, no postnasal scale, and a roughly rectangular subocular scale (versus > 40 dorsal scale rows, a postnasal scale present, or a subocular scale narrowed inferiorly). Heremites is most similar to Trachylepis spp. but can be distinguished from all members of this genus by having the following combination of characters (bolded characters differentiate Heremites from most Trachylepis spp.): 26–27 presacral vertebrae; 32–40 midbody scale rows; dorsal scales tricarinate; smooth ventral scales; four supraocular scales; 4–6 supraciliary scales; parietal scale overlaps anterior temporal scale; enlarged nuchal scales; no postnasal scale; third subocular scale rectangular, touches lip, longer than preceding supralabial scales; smooth scales on palms and soles; smooth subdigital lamellae; maximum SVL generally < 110 mm; tail length generally less than twice SVL; juveniles and adult females without blue tails (Karin et al. 2016).

Diagnosis: Lower eyelid with undivided, more or less transparent disc; dorsal scales strongly tricarinate; prefrontals usually not in contact; parietals usually in contact behind interparietal; limbs not, or but slightly overlapping when adpressed; a distinct light vertebral stripe, usually dark-margined, usually present. Three obvious characters that diagnose T. vittata from other two species (T.aurata, T. septemtaeniata) are: nuchal scales keeled, parietals usually in contact behind interparietal and a vertebral light band about one scale wide (Fattahi et al., 2014). (see Fig. 5 in BAHMANI et al. 2016). 
CommentNot listed by ENGELMANN et al. (1993).

Type species: Scincus vittatus OLIVIER 1804: 58 is the type species of the genus Heremites GRAY 1845.

Distribution: see map in Baier et al. 2017: Fig. 1 and Bar et al. 2021. Baier et al. also found allopatric, morphologically and genetically divergent lineages suggesting that Heremites vittatus might represent a complex with several taxa. See map in SMID et al. 2014 for distribution in Iran.

History: The name Heremites was first published by Cocteau (1837) and Duméril (1837), who mentioned it as a subgenus within Scincus, but these usages are as nomina nuda, as no definition or description is provided, nor are any constituent species mentioned. These authors simply attributed the name to Cocteau in manuscript (Karin et al. 2016). 
EtymologyNamed after Latin “vittatus” for ribbon, or decorated by a ribbon, referring to the dorsal stripes in the species. 
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