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Oligosoma ornatum (GRAY, 1843)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Eugongylinae (Eugongylini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: (Gray's) Ornate Skink 
SynonymTiliqua ornata GRAY 1843: 202
Hinulia ornata — Gray 1845: 77
Euprepes ornatus — STEINDACHNER 1869: 49
Lygosoma ornatum — BOULENGER 1887: 317
Homolepida ornata — BURT & BURT 1932
Lygosoma (Sphenomorphus) ornatum — SMITH 1937: 220
Sphenomorphus ornatus — MITTLEMAN 1952
Leiolopisma ornata — MCCANN 1955 (part)
Sphenomorphus pseudornatus MCCANN 1955
Leiolopisma ornatum — GREER 1974: 17
Leiolopisma pseudornatum — GREER 1974: 17
Cyclodina ornata — HARDY 1977: 261
Cyclodina ornata — HICKSON et al. 2000
Oligosoma ornata — CHAPPLE et al. 2009
Oligosoma ornatum — GOLLIN et al. 2020 
DistributionNew Zealand (North Island)

Type locality: Manakau, Horowhenua (homotype locality)  
TypesNeotype: NMNZ RE.002457 (formerly NMNZ R.1815 and EDS.912), designated by Patterson et al. 2013.
Homotype: NMNZ R1815 (designated by HARDY 1977) 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Oligosoma ornatum can be distinguished from other Oligosoma species through a combination of characters. The orange iris clearly visible in living animals separates the species from all other Oligosoma except O. aeneum, O. levidensum (Chapple et al, 2008), O. hardyi (Chapple et al, 2008), O. townsi (Chapple et al, 2008), O. oliveri (McCann, 1955), O. macgregori (Robb, 1975), O. whitakeri (Hardy, 1977), O. striatum (Buller, 1871), O. homalonotum (Boulenger, 1906), and O. roimata sp. nov.. The unbroken subocular scale row separates O. ornatum from O. striatum, O. homalonotum and O. hardyi. Oligosoma ornatum has a prominent teardrop marking under the eye, and a moderately large ear opening, which separates it from O. aeneum, O. levidensum and O. hardyi which lack this marking and have small ear openings. Oligosoma townsi midbody scale count of ≥38 does not overlap with O. ornatum.
The maximum SVL is much less than that of O. oliveri (105.6 mm) and the AG/SF ratios are quite different (Chapple et al. 2008a). There is minimal overlap between O. ornatum and O. whitakeri in midbody and ventral scale counts with O. whitakeri having a higher range for both indices (Hardy 1977). O. ornatum lacks the yellow and orange colouration of many O. whitakeri specimens (Hardy 1977). O. whitakeri generally has dark blotches on the ventral surface, whereas it is often lightly speckled in O. ornatum. Oligosoma whitakeri has a longer tail (TL/ SVL: 1.32; Hardy 1977) compared to O. ornatum (TL/SVL: 1.14). Colour pattern distinguishes O. ornatum from O. macgregori and there is no overlap in midbody counts between these two species. The ventral colouration of O. ornatum which is usually flushed with orange, red, pink or yellow is different from the white venter of O. roimata sp. nov. [PATTERSON et al. 2013] 
CommentSynonymy: This species has been confused with O. aeneum and therefore the name ornatum (and variations have been used for aeneum as well. 
EtymologyThe Latin ornata, -us, = decorated" or "ornamented," refers to the ornate coloration. 
  • BELL, TRENT 2017. Raking: an effective detection and capture technique for semi-fossorial lizards in New Zealand. BioGecko (4): 59-69
  • 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
  • Chapple, D.G.; Patterson, G.B.; Bell, T.; Daugherty, C.H. 2008. Taxonomic Revision of the New Zealand Copper Skink (Cyclodina aenea: Squamata: Scincidae) Species Complex, with Descriptions of Two New Species. Journal of Herpetology 42 (3): 437–452 - get paper here
  • Chapple, D.G.; Patterson, G.B.; Gleeson, D.M.; Daugherty, C.H. & Ritchie, P.A. 2008. Taxonomic revision of the marbled skink (Cyclodina oliveri, Reptilia: Scincidae) species complex, with a description of a new species. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 35: 129-146 - get paper here
  • Chapple, David G.; Peter A. Ritchie, Charles H. Daugherty 2009. Origin, diversification, and systematics of the New Zealand skink fauna (Reptilia: Scincidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 52 (2): 470-487 - get paper here
  • Cree, Alison and Kelly M. Hare 2016. Reproduction and Life History of New Zealand Lizards. in: Chapple, D.G. (ed). New Zealand Lizards. Springer, pp. 169-206 - get paper here
  • Gill, B.J. 1976. Aspects of the ecology, morphology, and taxonomy of two skinks (Reptilia: Lacertilia) in the coastal Manawatu area of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 3: 141-157 - get paper here
  • Gollin, J. F., Gorman, N., & Armstrong, D. P. 2020. Twenty years on: changes in lizard encounter rates following eradication of rats from Kāpiti Island. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 45(1), [2021] - get paper here
  • Gray, J. E. 1843. Descriptions of the reptiles and Amphibia hitherto observed in New Zealand. Pp. 202-206. In Dieffenbach, E., Travels in New Zealand. J. Murray, London, 396 pp. - get paper here
  • Greer, A.E. 1974. The generic relationships of the scincid lizard genus Leiolopisma and its relatives. Australian Journal of Zoology 31: 1-67. - get paper here
  • Hardy, G. 1977. The New Zealand Scincidae: a taxonomic study. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 4: 221-325 - get paper here
  • HICKSON, Robert E.; KERRYN E. SLACK AND PETER LOCKHART 2000. Phylogeny recapitulates geography, or why New Zealand has so many species of skinks. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 70: 415–433 - get paper here
  • Hitchmough, Rodney A.; Geoffrey B. Patterson, and David G. Chapple 2016. Putting a Name to Diversity: Taxonomy of the New Zealand Lizard Fauna. in: Chapple, D.G. (ed). New Zealand Lizards. Springer, pp. 87-108 - get paper here
  • PATTERSON, GEOFF B.; ROD A. HITCHMOUGH & DAVID G. CHAPPLE 2013. Taxonomic revision of the ornate skink (Oligosoma ornatum; Reptilia: Scincidae) species complex from northern New Zealand. Zootaxa 3736 (1): 054–068 - get paper here
  • Smith, M.A. 1937. A review of the genus Lygosoma (Scincidae: Reptilia) and its allies. Records of the Indian Museum 39 (3): 213-234
  • Steindachner, F. 1867. In: Reise der Österreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858,1859 unter den Befehlen des Commodore B. von Wüllerstorf-Urbair (Zoologie), Vol. 1, part 3 (Reptilien p.1-98). K. Gerold's Sohn/Kaiserlich-Königl. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, Wien [1869 on title page] - get paper here
  • van Winkel, D., Baling, M. & Hitchmough, R. 2018. Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand: A field guide. Auckland University Press, Auckland, 376 pp.
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