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Sphenomorphus wau SHEA & ALLISON, 2021

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Higher TaxaScincidae, Sphenomorphinae (Sphenomorphini), Scincoidea, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Subspecies 
Common Names 
SynonymSphenomorphus wau SHEA & ALLISON 2021 
DistributionPapua New Guinea (Morobe Province)

Type locality: Mt. Kaindi, 1900m, 5km WNW Wau (7.337259°S 146.666090°E, AGD 66 datum), Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea  
Reproduction 
TypesHolotype: BPBM 14182, female, collected A. Allison, 11 May 1973 (field tag AA 140). 
DiagnosisDiagnosis: Identifiable as a member of the tribe Sphenomorphini by the medial pair of preanals being enlarged and laterally overlapping the adjacent preanals, upper secondary temporal separated from first pair of nuchals by an upper tertiary temporal, and with most of the supradigital scales divided (Greer 1974; 1979; 1990). Assigned to the Sphenomorphus solomonis species group of Greer and Shea (2004) by lacking a windowed lower eyelid, and possessing a postsupraocular scale. Differs from all other members of the S. solomonis species group in having the last two supralabials undivided, the primary temporal divided, and the first supralabial not fused to the nasal. (Shea et al. 2021).

Comparisons: From S. schultzei (Vogt, 1911a), the only other species in the S. solomonis species group lacking division of the last supralabial but with divided primary temporal scales, S. wau sp. nov. differs in lacking the characteristic fusion of first supralabial to nasal (Greer 1973, Greer & Parker 1974). Sphenomorphus schultzei is also a much smaller species, with maximum SVL only 50 mm, and very rarely more than 42.5 mm, and has fewer midbody scales (22–28), paravertebral scales (43–70), supralabials (six, with fourth below centre of eye), the lower secondary temporal overlapping the upper secondary temporal, and the third pair of chin shields not divided.
In the key to the S. solomonis species group provided by Greer & Shea (2004), S. wau sp. nov. would key to S. nigriventris (de Rooij, 1915) in having prefrontals in contact, supralabials seven with the fifth below the eye, three supraciliaries contacting the first supraocular, presuboculars four (note that the definition of presuboculars used in that paper is different to the definition used here, so that our counts are one greater than used by Greer), and infralabials contacting the postmental one. Sphenomorphus nigriventris is a species complex, although the populations in Papua New Guinea represent a single taxon. These geographically nearest populations to S. wau sp. nov. (though still separated by 485 km) differ from it in having 28–32 midbody scales, last supralabial divided, lower secondary temporal overlapping the upper secondary temporal, and two suboculars. They also have a distinctive colour pattern of small white spots partially edged with dark brown, giving a series of partial–ocelli that are the major component of lateral and dorsal pattern.
Four other Sphenomorphus species are known from the Wau area: S. darlingtoni (Loveridge, 1945), S. jobiensis (Meyer, 1874), S. neuhaussi (Vogt, 1911b) and S. solomonis (Boulenger, 1887). Of these, only S. darlingtoni and S. jobiensis have been recorded from the type locality of S. wau sp. nov. The local population of S. darlingtoni differs from S. wau sp. nov. in a number of characters, including smaller maximum SVL (52 mm), fewer paravertebral scales (59–77), greater number of supraoculars (usually six, with the first three in contact with the frontal, occasionally the first two only in contact with the frontal, or seven, with the first three contacting the frontal) and supraciliaries (10–14, modally 12), anterior loreal either excluded from the supralabials by contact between nasal and posterior loreal, or double (divided into a dorsal and ventral scale), at least the last supralabial, and often the last two, divided into upper and lower scales, and the lower secondary temporal overlapping the upper.
Sphenomorphus jobiensis is a much larger species than S. wau sp. nov., with the minimum mature size for local populations being SVL = 76 mm for males and 79 mm for females. It also has many more midbody scales (36–44), subdigital lamellae (21–29), supralabials (8–10), and postsuboculars (usually 6–8, rarely 5), as well as having a double anterior loreal, the last two supralabials divided and the lower secondary temporal overlapping the upper secondary temporal, and the first two pairs of chin shields in median contact. It is not a member of the S. solomonis species group to which S. wau sp. nov. belongs, lacking the diagnostic postsupraocular scale of that species group.
Sphenomorphus neuhaussi is a member of the S. pratti group, and like other members of that complex is an elongate, short–limbed, small–headed semifossorial species with a very pointed snout. Its distinctive colour pattern of narrow dark grey stripes on a light grey to pink/tan ground colour is very different to that of S. wau sp. nov., and it is a much larger species (adult SVL of the local population 90 mm or more), with shorter forelimbs (13.3–17.1% of SVL) and head (14.2–17.4% of SVL), and greater number of midbody scales (36–38) and paravertebral scales (90–111). It further differs in lacking a postsupraocular, having prefrontal scales separated (at nearest approach, barely touching in a few individuals), anterior loreal long and low, only 2–3 presuboculars, the last supralabial divided, and the second and third chin shields separated from the infralabials by one (second chin shields) or two (third chin shields) rows of oblique scales.
Sphenomorphus solomonis, like S. wau sp. nov. a member of the S. solomonis group and possessing a postsupraocular scale, and of similar size to S. wau sp. nov. (local populations with adult SVL 53.5–71.5 mm), differs in having a more coarsely spotted lateral pattern, often with dark dorsal spotting, fewer midbody scales (26–30) and paravertebral scales (59–72), separated prefrontals, 2–6 nuchals on each side, more square loreals; 3 presuboculars, 2–4, usually 3, suboculars; usually single primary temporal but last supralabial divided, and usually two pairs of chin shields in median contact. (Shea et al. 2021).

Color in life: Not known (Shea & Allison 2021). 
Comment 
EtymologyThe species name is a noun in apposition alluding to the type locality (both the nearest town and the location of the former Wau Ecology Institute), and suggestive of surprise, the first author’s initial thought when he found the specimen among the unidentified Sphenomorphus material at the Bishop Museum. 
References
  • Shea, Glenn M. & Allen Allisonn 2021. A new species of Sphenomorphus (Squamata: Scincidae) from Mount Kaindi, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. in: Telnov D., Barclay M. V. L. & Pauwels O. S. G. (eds) 2021. Biodiversity, biogeography and nature conservation in Wallacea and New Guinea. Volume IV. The Entomological Society of Latvia, Rīga, pp. 49–60
 
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