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Praeteropus auxilliger HUTCHINSON, COUPER, AMEY & WILMER, 2021

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Sphenomorphini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common Names 
SynonymPraeteropus auxilliger HUTCHINSON, COUPER, AMEY & WILMER 2021 
DistributionAustralia (CE Queensland: Lake Elphinstone/Lenton Downs area and the Redcliffe Tableland)

Type locality: Lake Elphinstone, mideastern Queensland (2183300600S, 14881305000E.  
TypesHolotype. QM J96697 (female), 24 November 2018 by G. Armstrong and P. Horner.
Paratypes. QM J96698, QM J96699 (juv.) data as for holotype. QM J81749, Lenton Downs (2183303300S, 14880602600E); QM J92794, J92833, Stockton Creek crossing on access road, Redcliffe Tableland, north of Nebo (2180901600S, 14880905900E); QM J92834, lower section of a tributary of Sandy Creek that joins just above the gorge, Redcliffe Tableland, north of Nebo (2180204600S, 14880402100E). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: A small species of Praeteropus with more than 100 paravertebral scales, 2 supraoculars, 5 supralabials, 4 infralabials, no prefrontals, and an undivided upper secondary temporal scale. Presacral vertebrae ‡50, 8 cervical vertebrae, 5 premaxillary teeth. Distinguished from all other species in the genus by its combination of a color pattern of blackish sides, contrasting sharply with a pale-brown dorsum and, in most adults, the presence of an ossification attached to the tip of the stapes (Hutchinson et al. 2021).

Color in Life. Similar to that in preservative, except that the dorsal color is pink to yellowish brown and the intensity of the lateral coloring stronger, and almost black (Fig. 10 in Hutchinson et al. 2021).

Comparisons: In scalation, P. auxilliger is closest to P. gowi but is readily separated from this species by smaller size (maximum SVL for P. gowi 108 mm [Greer and Cogger, 1985]), color pattern, in lacking prefrontals and in having an undivided upper temporal (split in two in P. gowi). In internal features, P. gowi differs in that the supratemporal remains unfused to the braincase, and the pectoral girdle is more reduced with its small rod-like interclavicle and slender, sickle-shaped clavicles. Praeteropus gowi is also more elongate, with slightly higher paravertebral scale and presacral vertebral counts: (106– 117 and 52–56 versus 103–110 and 50–54; Greer and Cogger, 1985). However, the two are sister species within Praeteropus and share a more elongate body with 50 or more presacral vertebrae (versus 49 or fewer in P. brevicollis and P. monachus sp. nov.), no reduction in the neck vertebrae (i.e. eight cervicals vs. seven in P. brevicollis and P. monachus sp. nov.), similar morphology of the orbitosphenoid and relatively longer and slenderer stapedial shafts. Praeteropus auxilliger is distinguished in scalation from P. brevicollis and P. monachus sp. nov. in having fewer labial scales (5/4 vs. 6/5 or 6/4), fewer supraoculars (2 vs. 3), and more paravertebrals (103–110 vs. 102 or fewer). The holotype female contains two relatively large ova that were visible in life through the ventral body wall (Hutchinson et al. 2021). 
EtymologyNoun in apposition, constructed from the Latin auxillium meaning an aid, as in a hearing aid, alluding to the bony block attached to the stapes, and the verb gero, to wear or carry. 
  • Hutchinson, M. N., Couper, P., Amey, A., & Wilmer, J. W. 2021. Diversity and Systematics of Limbless Skinks (Anomalopus) from Eastern Australia and the Skeletal Changes that Accompany the Substrate Swimming Body Form. Journal of Herpetology 55 (4): 361-384 - get paper here
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