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Lankascincus taprobanensis (KELAART, 1854)

IUCN Red List - Lankascincus taprobanensis - Near Threatened, NT

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Ristellidae), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesCeylon Tree Skink
Sinhala: Munindradasage lakhekanala [munindradasai]
Tamil: Munindradasavin arene [munindradasai]
E: Munindradasa’s Lanka skink [munindradasai] 
SynonymEumeces taprobanensis KELAART 1854: 21
Eumeces (?) taprobanensis KELAART 1854: 407
Lygosoma taprobanense — BOULENGER 1887: 319
Lygosoma punctatolineatum BOULENGER 1907 (not BOULENGER 1893)
Lygosoma striatopunctatum AHL 1925: 20 (nom. subst. pro L. punctatolineatum)
Lygosoma (Sphenomorphus) taprobanensis — DERANIYAGALA 1931
Lygosoma (Sphenomorphus) punctatolineatus — DERANIYAGALA 1931: 169
Lygosoma taprobanense — SMITH 1935: 287
Lygosoma striatopunctatum — SMITH 1935: 288
Lygosoma (Sphenomorphus) taprobanense — SMITH 1937: 220
Lygosoma (Sphenomorphus) striatopunctatum — SMITH 1937: 220
Sphenomorphus striatopunctulatus — MITTLEMAN 1952: 30
Sphenomorphus taprobanense — TAYLOR 1953
Lankascincus taprobanensis — GREER 1991
Lankascincus taprobanensis — AUSTIN et al. 2004
Sphenomorphus striatopunctatus — ZIESMANN et al. 2007
Sphenomorphus striatopunctatum — FELDMAN et al. 2015
Lankascincus taprobanensis — BATUWITA 2019 
DistributionSri Lanka

Type locality: Nuwara Eliya (= Newera Ellia), Ceylon

munindradasai: Sri Lanka; Type locality: Sripada Sanctuary (Adam’s peak), Nuwara Eliya District, Central Province. (N 06° 48’ 24.61, E 080° 30’ 41.19) Elevation 1825 m.  
TypesSyntype: BMNH 1946.8.26.11 (formerly, collected by R. Webb, purchased Dr Kelaart. It is not clear how many specimens were used for the description of the species, but there is some suggestion from the measurements provided that more than one specimen was used. The fate of any other syntypes is unknown.
Holotype: NMSL 20072101, adult male. 40.16 mm SVL. Coll. R. K. Rodirigo, D. Jayantha and L. J. M. Wickramasinghe. 07. 11. 2006 [munindradasai] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. Distinguished from all other species of Lankascincus by the following combination of characters: prefrontals widely separated, frontal in broad contact with frontonasal (suture between frontonasal and frontal about half of/more than the length of posterior border of frontonasal); supralabials six; last supralabial subequal to the preceding supralabial; subdigital lamellae under the fourth digit of pes 9–13; adpressed limbs not overlapping (from Batuwita 2019: 215).

Diagnosis (munindradasai): Lankascincus munindradasai sp. nov. is distinguished from known congeners by possessing the following combination of characters: A medium sized Lankascincus 35–40 mm SVL; Prefrontals widely separated; one loreal scale, the loreal is touching the prefrontal, frontonasal, nasal, 1st, 2nd supralabial scales, upper and lower preoculars; the loreal is larger than the longitudinal axis, the nasal is fused; 6 supralabials , the last supralabial scale is single and lager than the others, 4th at the mid orbit point; 28 smooth scale rows at mid body; 53 to 54 paravertebral scales; 56 to 58 scales between mental and vent; median preanals are enlarged, outer preanals overlap with inner; lamellae under the fourth fingers and toes 8 and 12 respectively, the lamellae formulae for both fingers and toes are 4>3>2>5>1 and 4>3>5>2>1.

Comparisons. Lankascincus fallax: two primary temporals and seven supralabials; L. megalops: last supralabial smaller than the preceding supralabial, seven supralabials, and prefrontals in broad contact; L. deignani: prefrontals in broad contact, seven supralabials, and 19–20 subdigital lamellae under fourth digit of pes; L. dorsicatenatus: last supralabial smaller than the preceding supralabial, seven supralabials, and prefrontals in broad contact; L. taylori: prefrontals in contact and seven supralabials; L. gansi: last supralabial smaller than the preceding supralabial, seven or eight supralabials, and prefrontals in broad contact; L. sripadensis: prefrontals in broad contact, seven supralabials, and 16–19 subdigital lamellae under fourth digit of pes; L. greeri: subocular pale spot, prefrontals in broad contact, seven supralabials, and 19–20 subdigital lamellae under fourth digit of pes (from Batuwita 2019: 218). 
CommentSynonymy: fide Batuwita 2019. Synonymous to Lankascincus taprobanensis fide GREER (1991). Valid species fide DAS (pers. comm.). Lygosoma punctatolineatum BOULENGER 1907 is preoccupied by Lygosoma punctatolineatum BOULENGER 1893.

Distribution: This species occurs at high altitudes on Sri Lanka.

Prehensile tail.

This species does not seem to be mentioned by Taylor 1936 in his Eumeces monography. 
EtymologyLankascincus munindradasai was named after the late Dr. D. I. Amith Munindradasa, scientist who worked to the betterment of the country, although an electronic engineer by profession worked in various disciplines, a lover of nature, who was also involved in the discovery of five Cnemaspis species, and worked as a silent yet effective conservationist in the country. 
  • Ahl, E. 1925. Herpetologische Notizen.Snakes and other reptiles and amphibians. Zool. Anz. 65 (1/2): 18-20
  • 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
  • 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
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G. A. 1887. Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) III. Lacertidae, Gerrhosauridae, Scincidae, Anelytropsidae, Dibamidae, Chamaeleontidae. London: 575 pp. - get paper here
  • 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
  • Boulenger,G.A. 1907. Description of a new lizard of the genus Lygosoma from Ceylon. Spolia Zeylanica 4 (16): 173
  • de Silva, Anslem 1998. Lankascincus taprobanensis (Kelaart, 1854) a skink with a prehensile tail. Lyriocephalus 3 (2): 26-27 [1997]
  • Deraniyagala,P.E.P. 1931. Some Ceylon Lizards. Ceylon J. Sci. B, 16: 139-180
  • 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
  • Janzen, Peter and Malaka Bopage 2011. The herpetofauna of a small and unprotected patch of tropical rainforest in Morningside, Sri Lanka. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 5 (2): 1-13 - get paper here
  • Kelaart, E.E 1854. Prodromus Faunae Zeylanicae. Clarke, Romer & Co, Ceylon/London, 23 pp.[1852?]
  • Kelaart, EDWARD FRED 1854. Descriptions of new Ceylon reptiles. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. (2)13: 407-408 - get paper here
  • Meiri, Shai; Aaron M. Bauer, Allen Allison, Fernando Castro-Herrera, Laurent Chirio, Guarino Colli, Indraneil Das, Tiffany M. Doan, Frank Glaw, Lee L. Grismer, Marinus Hoogmoed, Fred Kraus, Matthew LeBreton, Danny Meirte, Zoltán T. Nagy, Cristiano d 2017. Extinct, obscure or imaginary: the lizard species with the smallest ranges. Diversity and Distributions - get paper here
  • Mittleman, M.B. 1952. A generic synopsis of the Lizards of the Subfamily Lygosominae. Smithson. misc. Collns, 117: 1-35. - 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
  • Smith, M.A. 1935. The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Reptiles and Amphibia, Vol. II. Sauria. Taylor and Francis, London, 440 pp.
  • Smith, M.A. 1937. A review of the genus Lygosoma (Scincidae: Reptilia) and its allies. Records of the Indian Museum 39 (3): 213-234
  • Somaweera, R. & Somaweera, N. 2009. Lizards of Sri Lanka: a colour guide with field keys. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 304 pp.
  • Taylor, E.H. 1953. A review of the lizards of Ceylon. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 35 (12): 1525-1585 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Ziesmann, S.; Klaas, P.& Janzen, P. 2007. Von Skinken und anderen Echsen [Sri Lankas]. Draco 7 (30): 18-23 - get paper here
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