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Melanoseps occidentalis (PETERS, 1877)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Scincinae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
SubspeciesMelanoseps occidentalis zairensis BRYGOO & ROUX-ESTEVE 1982
Melanoseps occidentalis occidentalis (PETERS 1877) 
Common NamesE: Western Limbless Skink 
SynonymHerpetosaura occidentalis PETERS 1877: 416
Scelotes occidentalis — WERNER 1898
Melanoseps occidentalis — TORNIER 1901: 62
Scelotes schebeni STERNFELD 1910
Scelotes occidentalis — DE WITTE & LAURENT 1942
Scelotes schebeni — DE WITTE & LAURENT 1943
Melanoseps schebeni — BRYGOO & ROUX-ESTEVE 1982
Scelotes schebeni — WELCH 1982
Melanoseps occidentalis — BRYGOO & ROUX-ESTEVE 1982
Melanoseps occidentalis — BROADLEY 1998
Melanoseps occidentalis — WHITING et al. 2003

Melanoseps occidentalis zairensis BRYGOO & ROUX-ESTEVE 1982
Melanoseps occidentalis zairensis BRYGOO 1985
Melanoseps occidentalis zairensis — BROADLEY et al. 2006 
DistributionCameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, C/E/S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Angola, Central African Republic

Type locality: “Cameruns (W. Africa)” [= Cameroon],

schebeni: Namibia; Type locality: Winduk [= Windhoek]

zairensis: C Democratic Republic of the Congo.  
TypesHolotype: ZMB 9122
Holotype: ZMB 28898, the only known specimen of schebeni, is lost (fide BRYGOO & ROUX-ESTEVE 1982, Bauer 2016) [schebeni]
Holotype: MHNG 2072.67; paratypes: MHNG, MNHN [zairensis] 
CommentLimb morphology: limbless; Scelotes schebeni is missing both forelimbs AND hindlimbs (Danny Meirte, pers. comm., 12 Apr 2013).

Subspecies: The status of Melanoseps occidentalis zairensis remains unclear. Although it is known from about 20 (type) specimens, there seems hardly any subsequent study of it. Marques et al. 2018 chose to consider it as synonym of M. occidentalis, without justification.

Synonymy: Sternfeld 1911 already synonymized schebeni with M. occidentalis, which has been confirmed by Bauer 2016. 
EtymologyThe specific name occidentalis (Latin) refers to the western distribution of this species. 
  • 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. 2016. On the taxonomic status of two enigmatic southern African fossorial skinks, Scelotes bicolor and S. schebeni. African Journal of Herpetology 65 (1): 33-38 | DOI: 10.1080/21564574.2016.1138149 - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. 1998. The reptilian fauna of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa). In: Schmidt, K.P. and Noble, G.K., Contributions to the Herpetology of the Belgian Congo... [reprint of the 1919 and 1923 papers]. SSAR Facsimile reprints in Herpetology, 780 pp.
  • Brygoo E R; Roux-Esteve R 1982. Un genre de lezards scincines d'Afrique: Melanoseps. Bulletin du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle SECTION A ZOOLOGIE BIOLOGIE ET ECOLOGIE ANIMALES 3 (4) 1981: 1169-1191
  • Chirio, L. & Lebreton, M. 2007. Atlas des reptiles du Cameroun. MNHN, IRD, Paris 688 pp.
  • Chirio, Laurent and Ivan Ineich 2006. Biogeography of the reptiles of the Central African Republic. African Journal of Herpetology 55(1):23-59. - get paper here
  • Herrmann, H.-W.; W.R. Branch 2013. Fifty years of herpetological research in the Namib Desert and Namibia with an updated and annotated species checklist. Journal of Arid Environments 93: 94–115 - get paper here
  • Marques, Mariana P.; Luis M. P. Ceríaco , David C. Blackburn , and Aaron M. Bauer 2018. Diversity and Distribution of the Amphibians and Terrestrial Reptiles of Angola -- Atlas of Historical and Bibliographic Records (1840–2017). Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (Ser. 4) 65: 1-501 (Supplement II)
  • Pauwels, O.S.G. & Vande Weghe, J.P. 2008. Les reptiles du Gabon. Smithsonian Institution, Washington: 272 pp. - get paper here
  • Peters, W. 1878. Herpetologische Notizen. I. Uber die von Spix in Brasilien gesammelten Eidechsen des Königlichen NaturalienKabinets zu München. Monatsber. Preuss. Akad. Wiss. Berlin 1877: 407-415 - get paper here
  • Sternfeld,R. 1910. Eine neue Echse aus Deutsch-Südwestafrika. Sitzungsber. Ges. naturf. Freunde Berlin (8): 372 - get paper here
  • Tornier, G. 1901. Die Reptilien und Amphibien der Deutschen Tiefseeexpedition 1898/99. Zool. Anz. 24:61—66 - get paper here
  • Trape, J.F.; Trape, S. & Chirio, L. 2012. Lézards, crocodiles et tortues d'Afrique occidentale et du Sahara. IRD Orstom, 503 pp. - get paper here
  • Werner, FRANZ 1898. Verh. Wien. Zool.-Bot. Ges. 1898: 530
  • Whiting, A.S.; Aaron M. Bauer and Jack W. Sites, Jr. 2003. Phylogenetic relationships and limb loss in sub-Saharan African scincine lizards (Squamata: Scincidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 29 (3): 582-598 - get paper here
  • Witte, G. F. de & R. LAURENT 1942. Contribution à la Faune Herpétologique du Congo belge. Rev. Zool. Bot. Afr. 36 (2): 101-115
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