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Panaspis massaiensis (ANGEL, 1924)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Eugongylinae (Eugongylini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Maasai Snake-eyed Skink 
SynonymAblepharus Massaïensis ANGEL 1924: 52
Ablepharus wahlbergii — LOVERIDGE 1920: 158
Ablepharus wahlbergii — LOVERIDGE 1923: 963
Ablepharus wahlbergii — LOVERIDGE 1929: 79
Ablepharus wahlbergii — LOVERIDGE 1933: 324
Ablepharus wahlbergii — LOVERIDGE 1936: 72
Ablepharus wahlbergii — LOVERIDGE 1957: 219
Ablepharus wahlbergii — BARBOUR & LOVERIDGE 1928: 163
Panaspis wahlbergii — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 16
Panaspis wahlbergii — SPAWLS et al. 2002: 155
Afroablepharus wahlbergi — BRANCH 2005: 77
Panaspis wahlbergi — RAZZETTI & MSUYA 2002: 53
Panaspis wahlbergi — MEDINA et al. 2016 (as Tanzania sp. 1 & 2)
Panaspis wahlbergi — SPAWLS et al. 2018: 165
Panaspis massaiensis — KILUNDA et al. 2019: 261 
DistributionC/S Kenya, N Tanzania

Type locality: Maasai plains near Nairobi  
Reproductionoviparous. Loveridge (1923) recorded a large female with six developing eggs measuring 6 x 3 mm. 
TypesHolotype. MNHN-RA 1904.306 (given as MHNP), adult unsexed collected 9 October 1903 by Charles Alluaud from the Maasai plains in Nairobi region, Kenya (Fig. 3). Basic measurements (in mm) of the holotype as provided in the original description: SVL = 42 mm, HL = 6 mm, HW = 4 mm, front limb = 6 mm, back limb = 11 mm. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Panaspis massaiensis comb. nov. can be distinguished from other members of the East Africa Panaspis wahlbergi-maculicollis group by the following combination of characteristics: 1) the presence of a white ventrolateral stripe (absent in P. tsavoensis sp. nov. and P. maculicollis); 2) smaller average size (39.0 mm SVL versus 41.8 mm SVL in P. wahlbergi); 3) longer tail about 1.5 times SVL (versus 1.1 times SVL in P. wahlbergi), much shorter tail than P. megalurus (approx. 3 times SVL); 4) fused frontoparietal (divided in P. megalurus); 5) average 26 midbody scale rows (versus 24 in P. wahlbergi). Genetic pair-wise difference from its nearest congener P. tsavoensis sp. nov. is 5.87 % (see Table 2), from which it can be easily diagnosed with the presence of a white ventrolateral stripe (absent in 5 out of 23 specimens examined); 26 versus 24 midbody scale rows; longer eye-tym- panum distance and eye-snout distance (Table 4); higher number of subdigital lamellae under the fourth finger (7–9 versus 5) and higher number of supralabials in front of subocular (6–7 versus 5) [from Kilunda et al. 2019]. 
CommentSynonymy: GUIBÉ 1954 synonymized Ablepharus massaiensis with A. wahlbergi but Kilunda et al. 2019 resurrected it.

Distribution: see map in Kilunda et al. 2019: 257 (Fig. 1).

Habitat: terrestrial; found to burrow on loose debris or in holes during the day. They move quickly on the surface within leaf litter or among grasses and can also be found under stones and similar micro-habitats.

Predation: Loveridge (1920) recorded specimens in the stomachs of Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) and Battersby’s Green Snake (Philothamnus battersbyi) from Morogoro and Nairobi respectively. 
EtymologyNamed after the type locality. Note that the original spelling is “Massaïensis” even though the species was named after the “Maasai” plains. 
  • Angel, M.F. 1924. Description D’un Lezard nouveau d’Afrique Orientale, Appartement Au Genre Ablepharus (Mission Alluaud, 1903–1904). Bulletin du Museum national d’histoire naturelle, 30: 52–53 - get paper here
  • Barbour, T. & LOVERIDGE.A. 1928. A comparative study of the herpetological fauna of the Uluguru and Usambara mountains, Tanzania Territory with descriptions of new species. Mem. Mus. comp. Zool. Cambridge (Massachusetts), 50 (2): 85-265 - get paper here
  • Branch, W. R. 2005. A photographic guide to snakes, other reptiles and amphibians of East Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, 144 pp
  • Broadley, D. G. & HOWELL, K. M. 1991. A check list of the reptiles of Tanzania, with synoptic keys. Syntarsus 1: 1—70
  • KILUNDA, FELISTA KASYOKA; WERNER CONRADIE, DOMNICK VICTOR WASONGA, JIE-QIONG JIN, MIN-SHENG PENG, ROBERT W. MURPHY, PATRICK KINYATTA MALONZA, JING CHE 2019. Revalidation and resurrection of Panaspis massaiensis (Angel, 1924) and the description of a new species of Panaspis Cope (Squamata: Scincidae) from south-eastern Kenya. Zootaxa 4706 (2): 255–274 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1920. Notes on East African lizards collected 1915-1919, with description of a new genus and species of skink and new subspecies of gecko. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1920: 131-167 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1923. Notes on East African lizards collected 1920-1923 with the description of two new races of Agama lionotus Blgr. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1923: 935-969 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1936. African reptiles and amphibians in the Field Museum of Natural History. Zool. Ser. Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Chicago, 22 (1): 1-122 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1955. On a second collection of reptiles and amphibians taken in Tanganyika Territory by C. J. P. lonides,. Journ. E. Africa Nat. Hist. Soc. 22: 169-198
  • Loveridge, A. 1957. Check list of the reptiles and amphibians of east Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika, Zanzibar). Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 117 (2): 153-362 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, Arthur 1929. East African reptiles and amphibians in the United States National Museum. Bull. US Natl. Mus. (151): 1-135 - get paper here
  • Loveridge,A. 1933. Reports on the scientific Results of an Expedition to the Southwestem Highlands of Tanganyika Territory. VII. Herpetology. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 74: 197-415 - get paper here
  • Medina, Maria F.; Aaron M. Bauer, William R. Branch, Andreas Schmitz, Werner Conradie, Zoltan T. Nagy, Toby J. Hibbitts, Raffael Ernst, Daniel M. Portik, Stuart V. Nielsen, Timothy J. Colston, Chifundera Kusamba, Mathias Behangana, Mark-Oliver Rödel, 2016. Molecular phylogeny of Panaspis and Afroablepharus skinks (Squamata: Scincidae) in the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 100: 409–423, doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2016.04.026 - get paper here
  • Razzetti, E. & Msuya, C.A. 2002. Field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Arusha National Park (Tanzania). Publ. Ed. Negri Istituto, Oikos, Varese, 84 pp.
  • Spawls, S.; Howell, K.; Drewes, R.C. & Ashe, J. 2002. A field guide to the reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, 543 pp. [reviews in HR 34: 396 and Afr. J. Herp. 51; 147] - get paper here
  • Spawls, Steve; Kim Howell, Harald Hinkel, Michele Menegon 2018. Field Guide to East African Reptiles. Bloomsbury, 624 pp. - get paper here
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