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Lankascincus sameerai KANISHKA, DANUSHKA & AMARASINGHE, 2020

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Ristellidae), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Subspecies 
Common NamesE: Sameera’s Lanka-skink
Sinhala: Sameeragé lak-hikanala 
SynonymLankascincus sameerai KANISHKA, DANUSHKA & AMARASINGHE 2020 
DistributionSri Lanka (Southern Province)

Type locality: Morningside (6°24' N, 80°36' E, alt. 1000 m a.s.l.), Matara District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype. Adult male, WHT 6720, SVL 36.0 mm, collected from Morningside (6°24' N, 80°36' E, alt. 1000 m a.s.l.), Matara District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka, by M.M. Bahir & S. Nanayakkara, on 14 January 1999.
Paratypes (n=5). Adult males, WHT 1608, SVL 36.8 mm, collected from Morningside (6°24' N, 80°36' E, alt. 1000 m a.s.l.), Matara District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka, by D.E. Gabadage & M.M. Bahir, on 21 February 1996; WHT 6741, SVL 35.5 mm; WHT 6749a, SVL 35.0 mm; WHT 6749b, SVL 35.0 mm; adult female, WHT 6593, SVL 35.7 mm; collected from Silverkanda, Deniyaya (6°24' N, 80°37' E, alt. 760 m a.s.l), Matara District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka.
 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Lankascincus sameerai sp. nov. is distinguished from its congeners by possessing the following combination of characters: maximum SVL 35.0–36.8 mm; prefrontals narrowly in contact, two primary temporals, upper primary temporal juxtaposed with secondary temporals, paired frontoparietals, second supraocular wider in transverse axis, frontal length more or less equal with the length of frontoparietals and interparietal combined, throat scales cycloid and imbricate, seven supralabials with last one split, four infralabials, 26 midbody scale rows, 48 paravertebrals, 46– 48 ventrals, 7–8 and 12–13 lamellae on fourth finger and toe respectively, brownish pink venter, dark gray throat with yellow flecks on labials, lower temporal region until shoulders (no flecks on throat and neck), dark brown (lighter than throat) neck; the differences are summarized in Tables 2–5 in Kanishka et al. 2020.

Coloration: In life (based on live breeding males), dorsum dark blackish brown, laterally dark chestnut brown; limbs uniform blackish brown with pale brown markings on hind limb; dorsal head dark blackish brown; lower parts of the lateral head and temporal region dark blackish brown; throat dark gray; neck dark brown, lighter than throat and darker than venter; yellow flecks present on supralabials and lower temporal region spread until shoulders; flecks on infralabials white (no white flecks on throat and neck); venter brownish pink, ventral side of the forelimbs orange, hind limbs gray (Kanishka et al. 2020).

Comparison. Lankascincus sameerai sp. nov. is most similar to L. gansi and L. merrill. However, the new species differs from them by characters listed in Table 3. In addition, among the other similar species, the new species is distinguished from Lankascincus dorsicatenatus and L. megalops by having four infralabials (vs five), 7 or 8 lamellae on fourth finger (vs 9–12), 12 or 13 lamellae on fourth toe (vs 16–18), 2nd supraocular widest in transverse (vs longitudinal), a dark dorso-lateral longitudinal stripe absent (vs present); from L. deignani and L. greeri by having four infralabials (vs five), 7 or 8 lamellae on fourth finger (vs 11–14), 12 or 13 lamellae on fourth toe (vs 19 or 20), two primary temporals (vs single), 2nd supraocular widest in transverse (vs longitudinal), last supralabials longitudinally split (vs entire), primary temporal juxtaposed with lower secondary temporal (vs imbricate); from L. fallax by having four infralabials (vs five), ventrals 46–48 (vs 49–58), 2nd supraocular widest in transverse (vs longitudinal), last supralabials longitudinally split (vs entire); from L. taprobanensis by having seven infralabials (vs six), four infralabials (vs six), paravertebrals 48 (vs 53–63), ventrals 46–48 (vs 59–64), two primary temporals (vs single), prefrontals in contact (vs separated), 2nd supraocular widest in transverse (vs longitudinal), last supralabials longitudinally split (vs entire), a dark dorsolateral longitudinal stripe absent (vs present); from L. sripadensis by having four infralabials (vs five), paravertebrals 48 (vs 56–58), ventrals 46–48 (vs 52–58), two primary temporals (vs single), last supralabials longitudinally split (vs entire); and from L. taylori by having four infralabials (vs five), paravertebrals 48 (vs 54), ventrals 46–48 (vs 54–56), two primary temporals (vs single), last supralabials longitudinally split (vs entire). See Tables 4, 5 in Kanishka et al. 2020. 
CommentThis species was split off from L. gansi.

Distribution: for a map see Kanishka et al. 2020: 117 (Fig. 8). 
EtymologyThe specific epithet is an eponym Latinized in the genitive singular, honouring Sri Lankan herpetologist Mr. Sameera Karunarathna (as D.M.S. Suranjan Karunarathna in publications) to express our sincere appreciation for his remarkable contributions to herpetology, especially the agamid and gekkonid fauna of Sri Lanka. The first two authors of this publication further express their gratitude for his generous teaching and guidance in taxonomic studies. Sameera’s remarkable contributions to biodiversity conservation in Sri Lanka, especially the enormous effort in popularizing reptile conservation among the general public, is highly commendable. The senior author of this publication celebrates his research partnership and friendship with Sameera since 2003. 
References
  • 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
 
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