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Praeteropus gowi (GREER & COGGER, 1985)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Sphenomorphini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Speckled Worm-skink 
SynonymAnomalopus (Vermiseps) gowi GREER & COGGER 1985: 25
Anomalopus gowi — COGGER 2000: 384
Anomalopus gowi — WILSON & SWAN 2010
Praeteropus gowi — HUTCHINSON et al. 2021 
DistributionAustralia (Queensland)

Type locality: 2.9 km NNE junction of Gulf and Kennedy Hwys via Kennedy Hwy, Qld  
TypesHolotype: QM J42615 (previously AMS (AM) R63128), collected by A. Greer, P. Webber, E. Cameron & R. Sadlier. 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus). Body serpentiform; limbless. Eyelids moveable, scaly; ear opening absent, position of ear not obvious or indicated by shallow depression with a few weakly ossified scales (Fig. 3D in Hutchinson et al. 2021).
Head shields (Fig. 4D). Nasals in medial contact; prefrontals usually absent (present in P. gowi); loreals one; supraoculars two or three; supraciliaries three, the first two separated from the third by the second or second and third supraoculars projecting laterally into the supraciliary row; parietal margined laterally and posteriorly by a single upper secondary temporal (usually divided in P. gowi) in contact with the single enlarged nuchal; subocular scale row much reduced; postmental contacting two infralabials on each side; frontoparietals usually separated (narrow medial contact in P. brevicollis); postmental contacting two infralabials on each side.
Parietal and pulmonary peritoneum dark pigmented; left and right oviducts present (Greer and Cogger, 1985; parietal pigmentation not confirmed in Praeteropus auxilliger sp. nov. or Praeteropus monachus sp. nov.).
Cranial osteology (Figs 5D–E, 6F–G); premaxillae mostly fused in adults; premaxillary teeth 5–6; all teeth upright, cylindrical, relatively stout and tapering rapidly to apical points; prefrontal contacts nasal, separating maxilla from frontal (P. gowi and P. auxilliger sp. nov.), or maxilla contacts frontal (P. brevicollis and P. monachus sp. nov.); parietal foramen often thinly closed on dorsal surface; upper temporal fenestra open; posttemporal fenestrae reduced but open; descending processes of the frontals anteroposteriorly narrow, retroflexed, terminating in contact with the apices of the orbitonasal flanges of the prefrontals; enlarged orbitosphenoids in anteromedial contact, linked to prefrontals; ventral process of the jugals elongate, anterior termination adjacent to the prefrontals; palatal rami of the pterygoids terminating posteromedially in short triangular posterior projections positioned anteriorly to the basipterygoid processes; stapes directed anterolaterally, extending to or beyond the medial margin of the quadrate column; LARST absent; angular distinct.
Postcranial osteology (Figs 7B, 8D–E, 9E–F); presacral vertebrae 46–57 (Greer, 1989); seven (P. brevicollis and P. monachus sp. nov.) or eight (P. gowi and P. auxilliger sp. nov.) cervical vertebrae; sacral vertebrae moveable and sacral ribs not fused distally; interclavicle reduced, cruciform or rod shaped; one pair of sternal ribs; inscriptional ribs connected via reduced medial elements that mostly lack posterolateral processes (leaf or spearpoint shaped); second and third cervical intercentra fused into a single crest; pelvis reduced to a pair of medially separated, anteroventrally oriented rods with inwardly inflected pubic regions (Hutchinson et al. 2021).

Similar taxa. Distinguished from all other limbless Australian skinks by the combination of nasals in broad medial contact, and dark-pigmented parietal and pulmonary peritoneum (Greer and Cogger, 1985). Among other limbless Australian sphenomorphines, only Lerista apoda has nasals in contact and is distinguished by absence of moveable eyelids, extreme attenuation, and presence (if minute) of an ear opening. Other limbless species distinguished by a continuous supraciliary row (Anomalopus), nasal and first supralabial fused, and palatal rami of the pterygoids with posteriorly projecting processes (Sepsiscus gen. nov.), recurved, fang-like teeth, small nasals and unreduced prefrontals that are only narrowly separated (Coeranoscincus), apically flattened, recurved teeth and pterygoids with posteriorly projecting processes (Ophioscincus) (Hutchinson et al. 2021). 
CommentPhylogenetics: Singhal et al. 2018 found considerable paraphyly among A. gowi, brevicollis, and other members of Anomalopus. However, they did not propose any taxonomic implications. For a phylogeny of the genera Anomalopus, Praeteropus, and Sepsiscus see Hutchinson et al. 2021.

Limb morphology: 0 digits, 0 toes (Limbless, Singhal et al. 2018, Cogger 2014)

Type species: Anomalopus (Vermiseps) gowi GREER & COGGER 1985 is the type species of the genus Praeteropus HUTCHINSON et al. 2021 
EtymologyNamed after Graeme Francis Gow (1940-2005), Australian herpetologist and Curator of Reptiles, Taronga Zoo, Sydney. He died from cancer but was also bitten several times by taipans and a death adder.

The genus was named after Latin praeteritus, bygone, omitted, and -pus, from the Latin -pes, foot, alluding to the leglessness of the included species. 
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 7th ed. CSIRO Publishing, xxx + 1033 pp. - get paper here
  • Cogger, H.G. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, 6th ed. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, 808 pp.
  • Couper, P., Covacevich, J., Amey, A. & Baker, A. 2006. The genera of skinks (Family Scincidae) of Australia and its island territories: diversity, distribution and identification. in: Merrick, J.R., Archer, M., Hickey, G.M. & Lee, M.S.Y. (eds.). Evolution and Zoogeography of Australasian Vertebrates. Australian Scientific Publishing, Sydney, pp. 367-384
  • Greer A E; Cogger H G 1985. Systematics of the reduce-limbed and limbless skinks currently assigned to the genus Anomalopus (Lacertilia: Scincidae). Rec. Austral. Mus. 37(1) 1985: 11-54 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Shea, Glenn M; Sadlier, Ross A 1999. A catalogue of the non-fossil amphibian and reptile type specimens in the collection of the Australian Museum: types currently, previously and purportedly present. TECHNICAL REPORTS OF THE AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM 15, 1999: 1-91 - get paper here
  • Singhal, Sonal; Huateng Huang, Maggie R. Grundler, María R. Marchán-Rivadeneira, Iris Holmes, Pascal O. Title, Stephen C. Donnellan, and Daniel L. Rabosky 2018. Does Population Structure Predict the Rate of Speciation? A Comparative Test across Australia’s Most Diverse Vertebrate Radiation. The American Naturalist - get paper here
  • Skinner, Adam; Mark N. Hutchinson, Michael S.Y. Lee 2013. Phylogeny and Divergence Times of Australian Sphenomorphus Group Skinks (Scincidae, Squamata). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 69 (3): 906–918 - get paper here
  • Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2010. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia, 3rd ed. Chatswood: New Holland, 558 pp.
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