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Riopa guentheri (PETERS, 1879)

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Lygosominae, Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: Günther’s Supple Skink, Günther's Writhing Skink
G: Günthers Schlankskink 
SynonymEumeces punctatus GÜNTHER 1864
Eumeces Güntheri PETERS 1879: 36 (nom. subst. pro Eumeces punctatus)
Lygosoma guentheri — BOULENGER 1887: 311
Riopa guentheri — SMITH 1935: 319
Lygosoma guentheri — DAS 1996: 46
Lygosoma guentheri — VYAS & PRAJAPATI 2010
Riopa guentheri — FREITAS et al. 2019 
DistributionIndia (Bombay Presidency, Matheran, Sholapur, Kurduwadi, Belgaum, N. Kanara; W Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, S Gujarat, Karnataka, Telangana)

Type locality: Ostindien  
TypesSyntypes: BMNH no number, India, presented W.E. Elliott;, India, R. Everett;, India, purchased Mr Stevens;, Dekan, North Hyderabad, presented Dr Hamilton; ZMB 8073 (2 specimens). Bauer et al. (1995) treated this as a replacement name for Eumeces punctatus Günther, 1864, hence assuming that the type series consisted of the types of Günther's name (and that the ZMB specimens therefore were not syntypes, as they had not been seen by Günther. However, Günther was not describing a new species but merely referring specimens (and previous literature) to Gray's Riopa punctata, and Gray in turn referring specimens to Linnaeus's Lacerta punctata, with Peters arguing that the account under this name by Günther and Gray was not conspecific with Linnaeus's taxon. Hence Peters must be considered to have described a new species by bibliographic citation, and referred to it not only the ZMB specimens he had examined (and which were the basis for his decision), but also any BMNH specimens that were used by Günther and Gray for their accounts, together with any specimens that were used in literature cited by Günther (i.e., specimens used by Cantor, Blyth and Jerdon), but excluding those specimens referred to Lacerta punctata by Linneaus (1758) and Wiegmann (1835), which, although referred to by Günther were explicitly excluded from Eumeces guentheri by Peters. The BMNH specimens listed above are those that were present in the BMNH prior to Günther's monograph. ZMB 8073 (2 specimens) were incorrectly listed as types in the ZMB catalogue but are not types (fide F. Tillack, pers. comm., 3 Dec 2018). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: 23-27 scales around the midbody, 87-96 scales on the paravertebral row, and distance between axilla to groin was 2.9 - 3.5 times longer than the distance from tip of snout to forelimb.
Hemipenal morphology: The hemipenis is simple and is differentiated into two distinct parts, the basal stalk or pedicle and a club shaped head or capitulum. The pedicle is straight tubular structure and the capitulum divided into two parts, the proximal part with fleshy protrusion and the caliculated distal region. The total length of the hemipenis is 3. 7mm and it is 1.9mm wide at the base of capitulum. The sulcus is simple but the canal is covered with a transparent layer. The stalk is slightly narrower at the proximal part (width, 0. 7mm) than the distal end (width, 0.8 mm) and devoid of any micro-ornamentation. T he sulcus spermaticus runs along the stalk and at the base of the capitulum it is covered with fleshy labia on both sides and then opens to a cup shaped groove or scallop. The right labium is like a thin muscle layer which in natural state covers the sulcus canal and the left labia. The apex is differentiated with callices and devoid of any calcified structures. At the sulcal side, the fleshy protrusion is partially divided at the sulcus opening and at the asulcal side the fleshy protrusion forms a band which is wider at the middle. The fleshy protrusion on both sulcal and asulcal sides are without any micro-ornamentation or calices. Scattered calices are found on the capitulum at sulcal and asulcal sides (Bhilala, et al., 2021).

The adults of R. guentheri and R. punctata look similar. However, juveniles of the former species are morphologically different and can be visually distinguished from its sympatric congener R. punctata by having only two fawn, broad stripes dorso-laterally, starting from snout to tail base (vs. three narrow, white stripes and two white dorso-lateral bands in R. punctata) and reddish-brown tail with a black spot at each scale base vs. uniform vibrant red scales in R. punctata. (Ashaharraza pers. comm.)
EtymologyNamed after Albert Günther (1830-1914), German-born zoologist at the British Museum. 
  • Ardesana, R., B. Trivedi, R. Jadav, R. Jhala, P. Joshi, M. Bharad & J. Ardesana 2019. Lined Supple Skink: notes on Lygosoma lineata from Rajkot City, Gujarat, India. Zoo’s Print 34 (3): 15-18 - get paper here
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • BHILALA, ASHOK KUMAR; KHAN ASHAHARRAZA, MUKESH INGLE, ASHIS K. DAS, S. SAMBATH & PRATYUSH P. MOHAPATRA. 2021. Records of Günther’s gracile skink, Riopa guentheri (Peters, 1879) (Reptilia: Scincidae: Lygosominae) from Central India. Records of the Zoological Survey of India, 121(1): 47-53. - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G. A. 1887. Catalogue of the lizards in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) III. Lacertidae, Gerrhosauridae, Scincidae, Anelytropsidae, Dibamidae, Chamaeleontidae. London: 575 pp. - get paper here
  • Boulenger, George A. 1890. The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. Taylor & Francis, London, xviii, 541 pp. - get paper here
  • Das,I. 1996. Biogeography of the Reptiles of South Asia. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida
  • FREITAS, ELYSE S.; ANIRUDDHA DATTA-ROY, PRAVEEN KARANTH, L. LEE GRISMER and CAMERON D. SILER 2019. Multilocus phylogeny and a new classification for African, Asian and Indian supple and writhing skinks (Scincidae: Lygosominae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 186 (4): 1067–1096 - get paper here
  • Ganesh, S.R.; S. Bhupathy, P. Karthik, G. Babu Rao & S. Babu 2020. Catalogue of herpetological specimens from peninsular India at the Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History (SACON), India. JoTT 12 (9): 16123–16135 - get paper here
  • Maqsood Javed, S.M.; M. Seetharamaraju , K. Thulsi Rao; Farida Tampal & C. Srinivasulu 2010. Distribution of Lygosoma guentheri (Peter, 1879) (Reptilia: Scincidae) in Andhra Pradesh, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 2 (4): 837-840 - get paper here
  • Murthy, T.S.N. 2010. The reptile fauna of India. B.R. Publishing, New Delhi, 332 pp.
  • Parmar, Dikansh S. and Shantilal K. Tank 2019. Herpetofauna of Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, Surat, India. IRCF 26 (1): 21–34 - get paper here
  • Patel, Harshil; and Raju Vyas 2019. Reptiles of Gujarat, India: Updated Checklist, Distribution, and Conservation Status. Herpetology Notes 12: 765-777 - get paper here
  • Patel, Harshil; Raju Vyas, Vaibhav Naik, Bhautik Dudhatra & Shantilal K. Tank 2018. Herpetofauna of the Northern Western Ghats of Gujarat, India. Zoology and Ecology, DOI: 10.1080/21658005.2018.1499237 - get paper here
  • Patel, Harshil; Vaibhav Naik, and Shantilal K. Tank 2016. Death-feigning behavior in two species of Lygosoma (Squamata: Scincidae) from India. Phyllomedusa 15 (2): 191-194 - get paper here
  • Peters, Wilhem Carl Hartwig 1879. Neue oder Weniger bekannte Eidechsenarten aus der Familie der Scinciden (Eumeces güntheri, Euprepes notabilis, Ablepharus rutilus). Sitzungsber. Ges. Naturf. Freunde Berlin 1879 (3): 35-37 - get paper here
  • Smith, M.A. 1935. The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Reptiles and Amphibia, Vol. II. Sauria. Taylor and Francis, London, 440 pp.
  • Venugopal, P.D. 2010. An updated and annotated list of Indian lizards (Reptilia: Sauria) based on a review of distribution records and checklists of Indian reptiles. Journal of Threatened Taxa 2 (3): 725-738. - get paper here
  • VYAS, R. & V. PRAJAPATI 2010. Notizen zu Reptilien aus den Salher Hills, Nord - Sahyadri, Bundesstaat Maharashtra, Indien. Sauria 32 (4): 70-74 - get paper here
  • Vyas, Raju 2007. Herptofauna of Puma Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat, India. Reptile Rap (8): 10-15 - get paper here
  • Vyas, Raju 2007. Present conservation scenario of reptile fauna in Gujarat State, India. Indian Forester, Oct 2007: 1381-1394 - get paper here
  • Vyas, Raju 2014. Notes and comments on the distribution of two endemic Lygosoma skinks (Squamata: Scincidae: Lygosominae) from India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 6 (14): 6726–6732 - get paper here
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