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Lankascincus fallax (PETERS, 1860)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Ristellidae), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Peters' Tree Skink 
SynonymLygosoma fallax PETERS 1860: 184
Eumeces tabrobanenesis GÜNTHER 1864 (part., fide SMITH 1935)
Lygosoma (Sphenomorphus) fallax — DERANIYAGALA 1931
Lygosoma fallax — SMITH 1935: 288
Lygosoma (Sphenomorphus) fallax — SMITH 1937: 220
Sphenomorphus rufogulus TAYLOR 1950 (fide GREER 1991)
Sphenomorphus fallax — TAYLOR 1953
Lankascincus fallax — GREER 1991
Lankascincus deraniyagalae GREER 1991
Sphenomorphus rufogulus — DAS 1996: 48
Sphenomorphus rufogulus — DE SILVA 1996
Lankascincus fallax — AUSTIN et al. 2004
Lankascincus deraniyagalae — AUSTIN et al. 2004
Sphenomorphus rufogulus — RODRIGOI et al. 2006
Lankascincus fallax — ZIESMANN et al. 2007
Sphenomorphus rufogulus — ZIESMANN et al. 2007
Lankascincus deraniyagalae — DAS & DAS 2017
Lankascincus fallax — BATUWITA 2019 
DistributionSri Lanka

Type locality: Ratnapura, Trincomali, Ceylon

deraniyagalae: Sri Lanka (central hills including sub montane area, and the Galle Fort area in the coastal plane); Type locality: Punduloya, Ceylon  
TypesSyntypes: ZMB 3762, NMW 16630:1-9, see Bauer et al. (2003).
Holotype: BMNH; Paratypes. BMNH, D-E, same data as holotype. MCZ 39837-39, Dimbulla, Queensland Estate. SMF 15460, Pt. de Galle [deraniyagalae] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Compared to other lygosomine skinks, the skinks of this genus share the following combination of derived character states: size small (maximum SVL, 58 mm); nuchals undifferentiated; subocular scale row complete and non-interdigitating with supralabials; external ear opening reduced, approximately three times size of narial opening; postmental contacts first infralabial only; third pair of chin scales separated from infralabial row; outer preanals overlap inner; scales perfectly smooth; subdigital lamellae with postaxial groove basally; premaxillary teeth >11; palatal rami of pterygoids slightly expanded posteromedially; fat bodies absent; clutch size constant, two or one, depending on species (GREER 1991).

Characters of species groups: the L. gansi group is clearly distinguished by having prefrontals in contact (vs separated in L. taprobanensis); two primary temporals (vs single in L. taylori group, L. deignani group, and L. taprobanensis); paired frontoparietals (vs fused in L. fallax); last supralabial longitudinally split (vs single in L. taylori group, L. deignani group, L. fallax and L. taprobanensis); second supraocular wider in transverse axis (vs subequal in L. dorsicatenatus group, L. deignani group, and L. fallax and L. taprobanensis). The recently described L. merrill shares characters of both the gansi group and L. fallax group (Kanishka et al. 2020).

Diagnosis (fallax). Distinguished from all other species of Lankascincus by the following combination of characters: supraciliaries 8– 9; primary temporals two; secondary temporals two, in contact, upper not elongate; supralabials seven; last supralabial subequal to the preceding supralabial; postsupralabials two; paravertebrals 46–55, similar in size; ventral scales 53–64; transverse scale rows across mid-body 24–28; subdigital lamellae under fourth digit of manus 9–12; subdigital lamellae under fourth digit of pes 15–18; maximum SVL 43.5 mm; adpressed limbs not overlapping; general body color of males light brown, with black or red throat, some subadult males with red belly, females and juveniles with, on each side, two black dorsolateral lines and in between them a light brown dorsolateral line (Fig. 11 in Batuwita 2019).

Comparisons. Lankascincus taprobanensis: single primary temporal and six supralabials; L. megalops: last supralabial smaller than the preceding supralabial and secondary temporals separated; L. deignani: single primary temporal and 19–20 subdigital lamellae under fourth digit of pes; L. dorsicatenatus: last supralabial smaller than the preceding supralabial and secondary temporals separated; L. taylori: single primary temporal and sexes alike (coloration is the same); L. gansi: last supralabial smaller than the preceding supralabial and secondary temporals separated; L. sripadensis: single primary temporal, and sexes alike (coloration is the same); L. greeri: subocular pale spot, single primary temporal, and 19–20 subdigital lamellae under fourth digit of pes.

MENDIS WICKRAMASINGHE et al. (2007) believe that Sphenomorphus rufogulus is actually the sub adult of Lankascincus fallax, and not a colour variation. The throat colour of Lankascincus fallax subadults is red. In Lankascincus fallax the throat colour is actually dark red and not black. 
CommentSynonymy:  BATUWITA 2019 synonymized Lankascincus deraniyagalae GREER 1991 with L. fallax.

Type Species: Lygosoma fallax PETERS 1860 is the type species of the genus Lankascincus GREER 1991.

For a general description of the species in the taxon see Taylor (1950) and Deraniyagala (1953), and for some general morphometrics see Table 1 in Greer 1991. Kanishka et al. 2020 provide a comparison of most Lankascincus species in their Tables 4 and 5.

Key: Kanishka et al. 2020: 116 provide a key to the species of Lankascincus.

Species groups: L. gansi group: L. gansi sensu lato; L. taylori group: L. taylori, L. sripadensis; L. dorsicatenatus group: L. dorsicatenatus, L. megalops; L. deignani group: L. deignani and L. greeri; L. fallax, L. taprobanensis, and L. merrill. 
EtymologyA Latin adjective meaning ‘deceptive’ or ‘fallacious’ in the neutral nominative, with unclear justification. 
  • Austin, C.C.; Das, I. & De Silva, A. 2004. Higher-level molecular phylogenetic relationships of the endemic genus Lankascincus from Sri Lanka based on nuclear DNA sequences. Lyriocephalus 5 (1-2): 11-22 [special issue] - get paper here
  • Balasubramaniam, A. and P. Krishnarajah 2004. Sphenomorphus rufogulus, a new record of an endemic skink from Arasaddy, Jaffna, Sri Lanka (Lacertilia: Scincidae). Lyriocephalus 5 (1-2): 23-24
  • Batuwita, Sudesh 2019. A REVIEW OF THE LIZARDS OF THE ENDEMIC GENUS LANKASCINCUS (REPTILIA: SCINCIDAE: LYGOSOMINAE) FROM SRI LANKA. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 162(3), (8 April 2019) - get paper here
  • Batuwita, Sudesh and Rohan Pethiyagoda 2007. Description of new species of Sri Lankan Litter Skink (Squamata: Scincidae: Lankascincus). Ceylon Journal of Science (Bio. Sci.) 36(2):80-87
  • Bauer, A.M.; Günther,R. & Klipfel,M. 1995. The herpetological contributions of Wilhelm C.H. Peters (1815-1883). SSAR Facsimile Reprints in Herpetology, 714 pp.
  • Bauer, Aaron M. 1998. South Asian Herpetological specimens of historical note in the Zoological Museum, Berlin. Hamadryad 23 (2): 133-149 [1999]
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  • Boulenger, George A. 1890. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. Taylor & Francis, London, xviii, 541 pp. - get paper here
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  • Greer A E 1991. Lankascincus, a new genus of scincid lizards from Sri Lanka, with descriptions of three new species. Journal of Herpetology 25 (1): 59-64 - get paper here
  • Günther, A. 1864. The Reptiles of British India. London (Taylor & Francis), xxvii + 452 pp. - get paper here
  • Jayaneththi, Hareschandra Bandula 2015. Vertebrate fauna of Morankanda-Mukalana secondary forest patch in Sri Lanka: A checklist reported from 2004-2008 survey. RUHUNA JOURNAL OF SCIENCE 6: 21- 41 - get paper here
  • Kanishka, A.S. et al. 2020. A new species of Lankascincus Greer, 1991 (Reptilia: Scincidae) with an overview of the L. gansi group. TAPROBANICA 9 (1): 103-119 - get paper here
  • Karunarathna, Suranjan D. M. S. and A. A. Thasun Amarasinghe 2011. A PRELIMINARY SURVEY OF THE REPTILE FAUNA IN NILGALA FOREST AND ITS VICINITY, MONARAGALA DISTRICT, SRI LANKA. Taprobanica 3 (2): 69-76 - get paper here
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  • Peters, Wilhem Carl Hartwig. 1860. Über einige interessante Amphibien, welche von dem durch seine zoologischen Schriften rühmlichst bekannten österreichischen Naturforscher Professor Schmarda während seiner auf mehrere Welttheile ausgedehnten, besonders auf wirbellose Thiere gerichtet Monatsber. königl. Akad. Wiss. Berlin 1860 (April): 182-186. - get paper here
  • Samarawickrama, V.A.M.P.K.; H.I.G.C. Kumara, D.R.N.S. Samarawickrama 2019. Diversity of Reptiles in the Eastern and Southern parts of the Sinharaja Rain Forest. Journal of Tropical Forestry and Environment - get paper here
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  • Taylor, E.H. 1953. A review of the lizards of Ceylon. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 35 (12): 1525-1585 - get paper here
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  • Ukuwela, Kanishka 2009. Life History Traits of Three Sri Lankan Scincidae, With Special Reference to the Reproductive Seasonality of Lankascincus fallax. Hamadryad 34 (1): 172-175
  • Wickramasinghe, L.J. MENDIS; Rodrigo, R.; Dayawansa, N. & Jayantha, U.L.D. 2007. Two new species of Lankascincus (Squamata: Scincidae) from Sripada Sanctuary (Peak Wilderness), in Sri Lanka. Zootaxa 1612: 1–24 - get paper here
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