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Ornithuroscincus pterophilus SLAVENKO, TAMAR, TALLOWIN, KRAUS, ALLISON, CARRANZA & MEIRI, 2021

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Sphenomorphini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymOrnithuroscincus pterophilus SLAVENKO, TAMAR, TALLOWIN, KRAUS, ALLISON, CARRANZA & MEIRI 2021
DistributionPapua New Guinea (Northern Province, Central Province)

Type locality: Papua New Guinea, Northern (Oro) Province, SE slopes of Mt Victoria, grasslands (8.9592°S, 147.5745°E), 2813 m elevation.  
ReproductionViviparous. Litter size varies between 2–3 (mean 2.3, N = 4). (Slavenko et al. 2021) 
TypesHolotype: BPBM 45705 (field tag AA 23742), adult female, collected by A. Allison, on 15 August 2015.
Paratypes (n = 17): Papua New Guinea: Central Province: Crest of Owen Stanley Mts along the Kokoda Track: 1900 Crossing Campsite, 9.1288°S, 147.7264°E (WGS 84), 1936 m a.s.l. (BPBM 44634–37, 44843–44, 44855; one male, three females, three juveniles); Myola 2 Guest House, 9.1509°S, 147.7675°E (WGS 84), 2076 m a.s.l. (BPBM 44859; juvnile); Northern (Oro) Province: Chopper Pad Camp, 8.9738°S, 147.5697°E (WGS 84), 2680 m a.s.l. (BPBM 45669, 45710–11; one male, one female, one juvenile); grasslands, 8.9554°S, 147.5764°E (WGS 84), 2805 m a.s.l. (BPBM 45704; female); grasslands, 8.9594°S, 147.5740°E (WGS 84), 2820 m a.s.l. (BPBM 45706; juvenile); 8.9585°S, 147.5751°E (WGS 84), 2817 m a.s.l. (BPBM 45713; male); 8.9591°S, 147.5743°E (WGS 84), 2836 m a.s.l. (BPBM 45714; male); 8.9585°S, 147.5753°E (WGS 84), 2814 m a.s.l. (BPBM 45715; female); 8.95919°S, 147.5742°E (WGS 84), 2830 m a.s.l. (BPBM 45716; female). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A medium-sized species of Ornithuroscincus (adult SVL 50.1–62.3 mm) characterized by the unique combination of short limbs (forelimbs 27.0–33.7% of SVL, hindlimbs 33.3–42.5% of SVL); frontoparietals unfused; nuchals 1–4 pairs; paravertebral scales 50–67; mid-body scale rows 28–42; 4th digit on front foot not longer than 3rd; subdigital lamellae 17–23 under 4th toe; single supradigital scales 3–8 on 4th toe; dorsum light brown with two to four more-or-less transverse longitudinal rows of dark brown to black spots of varying width, at their widest giving the impression of black base coloration with light brown striations, often joining to create two transverse rows of dark spots along tail; dark brown to black lateral stripe or field present; dorsolateral stripes present as thin (up to a single scale wide), unfragmented or zigzag light brown stripes extending from orbital region to tail; flanks marked with parallel fragmented light brown to white vertical bars extending ventrally from dorsolateral stripes; uniform coloration on abdomen, thighs and precloacal region, light to dark blue in preservative, lime green in life; brown spotting occasionally occurs on thighs and precloacal region; ventral surface of tail light to dark blue in preservative, lemon yellow in life, with occasional brown spotting; palmar and plantar surfaces light to dark brown in preservative, light or dark brown to lemon yellow in life. (Slavenko et al. 2021).

Comparisons: Ornithuroscincus pterophilus differs from O. bengaun in having unfused (vs. fused) frontoparietals. It further differs from O. albodorsalis, O. noctua, O. nototaenia and O. cf. venemai in lacking a parietal eye spot (vs. present). It differs from O. inornatus and O. cf. venemai in having a light brown dorsum with dark spots and thin (up to a single scale wide) light brown dorsolateral stripes that are clearly distinguished from the base dorsal coloration [vs. uniformly light brown dorsum with thick (one to two scales wide) light brown dorsolateral stripes, extending in thickness towards the base of the tail, diffusely demarcated from the base dorsal coloration in O. inornatus; deep olive grey dorsum powdered with brown, with broad dorsolateral white stripes becoming broader posteriorly in O. cf. venemai (Brongersma, 1953a)]. Ornithuroscincus inornatus also lacks the parallel light brown vertical bars that occur on the flanks of O. pterophilus. It further differs from O. inornatus in slightly larger size (adult SVL 50.1–62.3 mm vs. 47.9 mm) and from O. cf. venemai by having a higher count of midbody scale rows (28–42 vs. 24–26; Brongersma, 1953a). 
CommentSimilar species: O. inornatus, O. sabini, O. viridis. 
EtymologyMasculine Latinized compound adjective derived from the Greek pteris, fern, and philos, lover of, reflecting that most specimens collected on Mt Victoria were found sheltered between fronds of tree ferns. 
  • Slavenko, Alex, Karin Tamar, Oliver J. S. Tallowin, Fred Kraus, Allen Allison, Salvador Carranza & Shai Meiri. 2021. Revision of the montane New Guinean skink genus Lobulia (Squamata: Scincidae), with the description of four new genera and nine new species. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 195 (1): 220–278 - get paper here
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