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Ornithuroscincus sabini (KRAUS, 2020)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Sphenomorphini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymLobulia sabini KRAUS 2020
Ornithuroscincus sabini — SLAVENKO et al. 2021 
DistributionPapua New Guinea (Milne Bay Province)

Type locality: Camp 4” on N side Mt. Simpson, 10.0364° S, 149.5749° E, 2480 m a.s.l., Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea  
TypesHolotype. BPBM 16766 (field tag FK 7408), collected by F. Kraus, 16 February 2003.
Paratypes (n = 20). Papua New Guinea: Milne Bay Province: same locality as holotype (BPBM 16765, 16768, 16770, 16775, 16777, 16780); Mt. Simpson summit, 10.0362° S, 149.5677° E, 2740 m a.s.l. (BPBM 16772, 16779); “Camp 5” on N side Mt. Simpson, 10.0209° S, 149.5947° E, 1490 m a.s.l. (BPBM 16781–83); Bunisi village, 10.0171° S, 149.6002° E, 1420 m a.s.l. (BPBM 16761–64); Siyomu Village, 10.0105° S, 149.6014° E, 1200 m a.s.l. (BPBM 16784–88). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Small to medium-sized (adult SVL 29.4– 69.2 mm) terrestrial to semi-arboreal skinks with short limbs (forelimbs 25.7–36.3% of SVL, hindlimbs 29–47.3% of SVL); lobules absent from anterior edge of ear opening; a single pair of chin shields in medial contact; two supralabials posterior to subocular supralabial; chin shields abutting infralabials; lower eyelid with semi- transparent window; standard three-scale temporal region; nasal scale undivided; frontoparietals either fused or unfused; viviparous; litter size 1–3.
Ornithuroscincus differs from all other genera apart from Nubeoscincus by the absence of lobules from the anterior edge of the ear (vs. lobules present)—a character which in Nuboescincus only occurs in one species, N. stellaris. It further differs from Alpinoscincus, Lobulia, Nubeoscincus and Prasinohaema by having one pair of chin shields in medial contact (vs. two pairs). It further differs from Alpinoscincus, Nubeoscincus and Prasinohaema by the chin shields abutting the infralabials (vs. chin shields separated from infralabials by a row of genials) and by
having the standard three-scale temporal region (vs. fragmented temporal region). It further differs from Alpinsocincus by having two (vs. three) supralabials posterior to the subocular supralabial. It further differs from Prasinohaema by lacking green blood serum and tissues, a prehensile tail with a glandular tip and basally expanded subdigital lamellae. It further differs from Palaia and Papuascincus by its viviparous (vs. oviparous) reproductive mode. It further differs from Palaia by lacking basally slightly expanded subidigtal lamellae. It further differs from Papuascincus by having an undivided (vs. divided) nasal scale. It further differs from Alpinoscincus by having the lower eyelid with a semi-transparent window (vs. scaly) (Slavenko et al. 2021).

Diagnosis: A moderately sized species of Lobulia, adult SVL 49.5–60 mm; with a body having a rounded cross-section, distinct frontoparietals, two supralabials posterior to subocular, scales of temporal region not highly fragmented, single pair of chinshields in medial contact behind the postmental, no ear lobules, subdigital lamellae 17–21 under 4th toe, mid-body scale rows 26–32, paravertebral scales 50–63, mid-dorsum covered with rows of small dark-brown spots or speckles, top of tail base with 2–4 rows of small dark spots/speckles, dark-brown lateral stripe or field present, pale-bronze dorsolateral stripe present, light field on abdomen that lacks brown spotting 4–8 scales wide, and brown spotting under thighs and precloacal region.
Lobulia sabini sp. nov. differs from all other species of Lobulia in having only a single pair of enlarged chin shields in medial contact (vs. 2 or more in the other species) and from all these species except L. stellaris in lacking ear lobules. Lobulia sabini sp. nov. further differs from L. brongersmai in having distinct frontoparietals (vs. frontoparietals fused together in L. brongersmai) and a rounded body in cross section (vs. flattened in L. brongersmai); from L. alpina and L. subalpina in having two supralabials posterior to the subocular supralabial (vs. three in L. alpina and L. subalpina), in having the last supralabial entire (vs. horizontally divided into two scales in L. alpina and L. subalpina), and in having the scales of the temporal region not highly fragmented (vs. highly fragmented in L. alpina and L. subalpina); from L. glacialis and L. stellaris in having the scales of the temporal region not highly fragmented (vs. somewhat fragmented in L. glacialis and L. stellaris), in having 17–21 subdigital lamellae (vs. 12–16 in L. glacialis and 13–18 in L. stellaris), 26–32 midbody scale rows (vs. 32–36 in L. glacialis and 33–38 in L. stellaris), and 50–63 paravertebral scales (vs. 67–76 in L. glacialis and 66–81 in L. stellaris).
Lobulia sabini sp. nov. is most similar in scalation to L. elegans and L. lobulus. Besides the single pair of chin shields in medial contact and the lack of ear lobules, it further differs from L. elegans in its smaller adult size (SVL = 49.5–60 mm vs. 59–66.5 mm in L. elegans), rounded body (vs. flattened in L. elegans), lower mean number of subdigital lamellae under 4th toe (mean = 19.2, range = 17–21, n = 31 vs. mean = 23.2, range = 22–25, n = 10 in L. elegans), and in having the dark-brown mid-dorsal markings reduced to small spots or speckles (vs. two rows of large black checkers in L. elegans), a pale bronze dorsolateral stripe (vs. absent in L. elegans), a dark-brown lateral stripe or field (vs. absent in L. elegans), top of tail base with 2–4 rows of small dark-brown spots/speckles (vs. one row of large blotches in L. elegans), having brown spotting under thighs and precloacal region (vs. uniformly white in L. elegans), and a narrow light field on abdomen without brown spotting (mean = 6.6 scales wide, range = 4–8, n = 21 vs. uniformly 10 scales wide in six L. elegans). L. sabini sp. nov. further differs from L. lobulus in its lower number of mid-body scale rows (26–32 vs. 34–36 in L. lobulus), brown mid-dorsum without two lines of conjoined dark-brown spots (vs. with in L. lobulus), and having brown spotting under thighs and precloacal region (vs. uniformly white in L. lobulus).

Color in life. In life, BPBM 16765 was noted as “Dorsum brown with black edging to scales. Dorsolateral line of light spots. Sides black with many small yellow flecks more or less arrayed in horizontal rows. Venter deep lemon yellow from chin through first half of tail.” Some animals had a dark lateral field below the dorsolateral black stripe (Fig. 3B), but many had whitish sides below the dorsolateral stripe (Fig. 3C). BPBM 16761 had the chin and throat white and the remaining ventral surfaces of the body, tail, and limbs deep lemon yellow; the palmar and plantar surfaces had a lemon-yellow ground color with most scales suffused with brown (Fig. 3D). BPBM 16766 and most other animals had a white chin whereas the remainder of the venter was yellow. BPBM 16780 was entirely white below instead of yellow. 
CommentType species: Lobulia sabini KRAUS 2020 is the type species of the genus Ornithuroscincus SLAVENKO et al. 2021. 
EtymologyThe species is named in honor of Mr. Andy Sabin for his generous financial support of the author’s work in New Guinea. Andrew Sabin made a fortune from a precious-metals recycling business and is an ardent Trump supporter.

The genus name is a combined noun formed from the Latinized Greek nouns ornis, bird, and oura, tail, appended to the Latin noun scincus, a type of lizard, referring to the centre of distribution of the genus, as most species occur in the Papuan Peninsula, also known as the Bird’s Tail in reference to the general shape of New Guinea resembling a bird-of-paradise. 
  • KRAUS, FRED 2020. A new species of Lobulia (Squamata: Scincidae) from Papua New Guinea. Zootaxa 4779 (2): 201–214 - get paper here
  • 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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