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Oligosoma kahurangi PATTERSON & HITCHMOUGH, 2021

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Eugongylinae (Eugongylini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymOligosoma kahurangi PATTERSON & HITCHMOUGH 2021 
DistributionNew Zealand (South Island)

Type locality: Douglas Range, South Island, New Zealand; 41° 05’S, 172° 35’E  
TypesHolotype. NMNZ RE008602 (adult male); coll. A. Milne, 25 Nov 2019.
Paratypes (2 specimens). NMNZ RE008604 (adult female); same collection data as holotype; NMNZ RE008603 (adult male); same collection data as holotype. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis. O. kahurangi sp. nov. can be distinguished from other species in the genus Oligosoma by a combination of characters. These are: (a) interrupted subocular scale row; (b) unmarked cream ventral surface; (c) ITL >1.5 SVL; (d) MS >35; (e) clearly visible pale iris; (f) brown ground colour. It is most similar to O. longipes Patterson, O. hoparatea Whitaker et al., and O. maccanni (Patterson & Daugherty). It differs from O. longipes in having a median dorsal stripe which is either intact or broken (this is usually absent in O. longipes and where present has a herring-bone appearance not seen in O. kahurangi sp. nov.). There is no overlap in MS between O. kahurangi sp. nov. (36–38) and O. longipes (40–44) and O. hoparatea (40–43). Although very few individuals of each species have been observed, O. hoparatea appears to be a more robust animal than O. kahurangi (Figures 4 and 7) and is substantially larger (maximum observed SVL is 91 mm in O. hoparatea compared with 69.9 mm in O. kahurangi sp. nov.; this equates to O. hoparatea being almost double the body mass of O. kahurangi sp. nov). Compared with O. maccanni the dorsal surface is 8 scale rows wide (6 in O. maccanni) and the digits and tail are proportionally longer relative to SVL in O. kahurangi sp. nov. compared with O. maccanni.
O. kahurangi sp. nov. is found in high alpine (above 1400m) slate rock scree in a mountainous region with high rainfall and appears absent from nearby greywacke screes, whereas O. longipes occupies greywacke river terraces and screes at a wide range of altitudes in semi-arid inland basins in the rain-shadow of the South Island axial ranges.

Colouration. Four live specimens were examined for colouration and the description is as follows: Mid-dorsal stripe usually present, not usually continuous. This stripe becomes expanded and wavy down length of tail. Dorsal surface mid to dark brown, 8 scale rows wide, grading into pale dorsolateral stripe usually extending from above eye almost to tip of tail. This pale stripe extends into brown lateral stripe 2 scale rows wide, notched on upper and lower edges, running from behind nostril towards tip of tail, becoming flecked with light and dark on tail. This brown band is bordered on each edge by a dark brown band 1 to 2 half-scale rows wide running above the limbs and becoming indistinct after hindlimb. The lower dark brown band is bordered below by a pale stripe, 1 to 2 half-scale rows wide running from below the eye, through the ear, above the limbs to become indistinct after the hindlimbs. This band is bounded below by a darker band breaking up into a ventral pale colour. Soles of feet grey/cream. Belly and throat cream, unmarked. Outer surface of forelimbs brown, with a prominent pale stripe. There do not appear to be sexually dimorphic colour patterns. 
Commentonly minimal information provided as authors have not returned details upon request. 
EtymologyNamed for Kahurangi National Park where the species is found. The name was decided in consultation with Manawhenua Ki Mohua. Recommended common name is the Kahurangi skink. 
  • PATTERSON, G. B., & HITCHMOUGH, R. A. 2021. A new alpine skink species (Scincidae: Eugongylinae: Oligosoma) from Kahurangi National Park, New Zealand. Zootaxa 4920(4): 495-508 - get paper here
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