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Palaia pulchra (BOULENGER, 1903)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Sphenomorphini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymLygosoma pulchrum BOULENGER 1903: 127
Lygosoma (Leiolopisma) pulchrum — SMITH 1937: 225
Leiolopisma pulchrum — ZWEIFEL 1972: 535
Lipinia pulchra — GREER 1974: 11
Lipinia pulchra — MYS 1988: 140
Lipinia pulchra — DAS & AUSTIN 2007
Palaia pulchra — SLAVENKO et al. 2021 
DistributionPapua New Guinea (north coast)

Type locality: Albert Edwards Range, 6000 feet (elevation).  
TypesSyntypes: unlocated; was BMNH 1946.8.16.39-40 (formerly 1901.11.27.8-9), Albert Edward Range, 6000ft, New Guinea, collected H.S. Rohu, but not in BMNH (P. Campbell, pers. comm., 7 July 2014). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): Small (adult SVL 37.3–41.2 mm) skinks with short limbs (forelimbs 29.9–34.4% of SVL, hindlimbs 36.7–43.8% of SVL); small lobules present on anterior edge of ear opening; 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 fused; oviparous; clutch size two; subdigital lamellae slightly expanded basally.
Palaia differs from Nubeoscincus, Prasinohaema and Lobulia by having one pair of chin shields in medial contact (vs. two pairs) and an oviparous (vs. viviparous) reproductive mode. It further differs from Nubseoscincus and Lobulia by having slightly basally expanded subdigital lamellae. It further differs from Nubeoscincus and Prasinohaema by having the standard three-scale temporal region (vs. fragmented temporal region), the chin shields abutting the infralabials (vs. chin shields separated from infralabials by a row of genials) and fused (vs. unfused) frontoparietals. It further differs from Prasinohaema by lacking green blood serum (Greer, 1974) and tissues and a prehensile tail with a glandular tip. It differs from Papuascincus by having an undivided (vs. divided) nasal scale and slightly basally expanded subdigital lamellae and by lacking pustulate eggshells (Slavenko et al. 2021). 
CommentType species: Lygosoma pulchrum BOULENGER 1903: 127 is the type species of the genus Palaia SLAVENKO et al. 2021. 
EtymologyNamed after Latin “pulchra” = beautiful, handsome, fine, fair.

The genus name is latinized feminine genus from the Tok Pisin palai, lizard. 
  • Austin C C 1995. Molecular and morphological evolution in South Pacific scincid lizards: morphological conservatism and phylogenetic relationships of Papuan Lipinia (Scincidae). Herpetologica 51 (3): 291-300 - get paper here
  • Austin, Christopher C. 1998. Phylogenetic relationships of Lipinia (Scincidae) from New Guinea based on DNA sequence variation from the mitochondrial 12S rRNA and Nuclear C-MOS genes. Hamadryad 23 (2): 93-102. - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1903. Descriptions of new reptiles from British New Guinea. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1: 125-129 - get paper here
  • Das, I. & Austin, C.C. 2007. New Species of Lipinia (Squamata: Scincidae) from Borneo, Revealed by Molecular and Morphological Data. Journal of Herpetology 41 (1): 61 - get paper here
  • Günther, R. 2000. In alten Sammlungen aus Neuguinea entdeckt: Zwei neue Arten der Gattung Lipinia (Squamata: Scincidae). Salamandra 36 (3): 157-174 - get paper here
  • Mys, Benoit 1988. The zoogeography of the scincid lizards from North Papua New Guinea (Reptilia: Scincidae). I. The distribution of the species. Bull. Inst. Roy. Sci. Nat. Belgique (Biologie) 58: 127-183
  • 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
  • Smith, M.A. 1937. A review of the genus Lygosoma (Scincidae: Reptilia) and its allies. Records of the Indian Museum 39 (3): 213-234
  • Zweifel R G 1979. Variation in the scincid lizard Lipinia noctua and notes on other Lipinia from the New Guinea region. American Museum Novitates (2676): 1-21 - get paper here
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